North Carolina’s Statewide Health Promotion Program
North Carolina can be proud of the work that the Statewide Health Promotion Program accomplished in collaboration with schools, worksites, faith communities, health care and other community partners. This program, housed in the NC Division of Public Health, made it easier for North Carolinians to eat smart, move more, and avoid tobacco use by establishing policies and environments supportive of active living, healthy eating and tobacco-use prevention and cessation.
The most effective public health approach to chronic disease prevention includes a combination of interventions that address all aspects of people’s lives–as individuals, as people in relationships, as members of groups, as residents in a community, and as people affected by public policy. The NC Statewide Health Promotion Program, implementing strategies from North Carolina’s Obesity Prevention Plan 2007-2012, used this multi-level approach by building individuals’ knowledge and skills, encouraging new attitudes, and changing policies and environments to support healthy behaviors.
Since 2007, the NC Statewide Health Promotion Program has resulted in 3,237 partnerships, policy changes and environmental changes, including 90 new gardens, 16 new bike/pedestrian plans, and 381 changes to the built environment to make healthy eating and physical activity easier for North Carolinians.
No matter how motivated or passionate one group may be, policy and environmental changes cannot be accomplished independently. Collaboration and commitment of community partners are essential to implementing and sustaining an effective health promotion program. This is accomplished through institutionalizing policies and practices within communities and organizations. The success of the program stems from the development of a network of community practitioners who understand and can lead a system and environmental change movement. It also means involving a multiplicity of stakeholders who can develop long-term buy-in and support throughout the community to sustain the efforts.