State Health Departments Reach Out to Young and Old in Celebration of National Public Health Week

April 07, 2015|4:51 p.m.| Virgie Townsend

It’s National Public Health Week (NPHW), which runs from April 6 to April 12, and state health departments are celebrating by connecting with their constituents to promote this year’s theme "Healthiest Nation 2030."

Here is just a sampling of the many activities taking place this week across the United States to celebrate the important work of public health.

Arkansas

At the start of NPHW on April 6, the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) held a kick-off event at the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library, which offers literacy programs, cooking and gardening classes, and a free food program to children. ADH Director and State Health Officer Nate Smith delivered a presentation on why healthy habits need to be developed at a young age.

"This library is an excellent example of how many of our well-established community resources can help teach children healthy habits that will last a lifetime," Smith said.

ADH is holding other health-promotion events throughout NPHW, including a talk with Associated Press Medical Writer Mike Stobbe on his book Surgeon General's Warning: How Politics Crippled the Nation's Doctor. During the event, Stobbe will discuss how surgeon generals impact U.S. health, and why the position’s decline hurts the nation’s well-being.

New York

In New York, the state health department is promoting NPHW with a statewide tour aimed at reducing obesity, which coincided with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new educational campaign on obesity.

On the first tour stop, Acting State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker visit Club 99, free fitness program in Buffalo, New York, for people older than 60. Club 99’s focus on promoting fitness and healthy lifestyles among senior adults strives to help them live healthy, independent lives as they age.

On April 7, Zucker stopped in Syracuse, where he partnered with student athletes from Syracuse University to educate local youth about the importance of exercising and eating a healthy diet.

"Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in our country and if we are to truly defeat this disease, we must focus on preventing it early in life," said Zucker. "It is essential that we teach children the importance of staying active and living a healthy lifestyle, like these athletes. Whether it's a pick-up game of basketball or simply going for a jog, physical activity will make you and your family and friends healthier and improve your quality of life."

Vermont

In neighboring Vermont, State Health Commissioner Harry Chen has also been talking to youth about building the healthiest nation by 2030. Chen visited a group of third-graders to explain what the Vermont Department of Health does and ask for their advice on how to make their state and nation healthier. He also provided health tips to the students, including on the importance of immunizations, exercise, and staying home from school when they’re sick to avoid spreading disease.

"This country is going to be yours and you will be taking care of us," Chen told the students. "Most of all, we need your help."

How does public health affect you?

NPHW lasts only one week, but public health works for us every day. State, territorial, and freely associated health departments provide tobacco prevention and cessation services, immunizations, HIV prevention services and STD counseling, emergency preparedness and response, prenatal care, and infectious disease surveillance, along with a host of other programs and policies designed to protect and improve the nation’s well-being. To find out more about NPHW activities across the country, visit NPHW’s events web page.