By Jamie Cousins
After six years of work with rural communities across North Carolina the Catalyst for Healthy Eating and Active Living (Catalyst), a program of the Foundation for Health Leadership & Innovation, will draw to a close by the end of this year. As we prepare for this transition, we’d like to take a moment to celebrate our collective accomplishments and to share our thanks.
The Catalyst envisions empowered rural communities that acknowledge health inequities and advance change to improve health and well-being for everyone. The program has built partnerships, leveraged resources, and shaped policies, environments, and systems to make healthy foods and safe places to be active more accessible.
In 2012, the Catalyst was formed as a partnership between the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust (the KBR Trust) and the NC Division of Public Health. Catalyst Coordinators have worked with eight rural counties across the state, making important connections to regional and statewide public health efforts including the Community Transformation Grant Project and the Active Routes to School Program. The Catalyst also became a vital partner in the KBR Trust’s Healthy Place NC initiative. County-based Catalyst Coordinators worked alongside local leaders and community champions, weaving a stronger network to advance healthy eating and active living and to prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
The Catalyst was vital to at least 50 policy and environmental changes through 2017 and continued to build on these efforts in 2018. We worked with local partners to adapt evidence-based or promising strategies for lasting change. We are proud to say we have contributed to:
- healthy eating changes that increase and support access to healthy foods through farmers’ markets, community gardens, small food stores, and countywide food inventories
- active living changes that increase and support access to safe places to be active at schools and faith facilities, at parks and playgrounds, on sidewalks and trails, and through countywide active living inventories
- initiatives to bolster these efforts through community-wide campaigns, maps, inventories, and a new local coalition
As we prepare to close, we are making connections with other statewide and regional organizations who might lend support to local efforts. One of our key focuses is to share the Catalyst model and lessons for others to build on in the future.
We thank the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust for funding the Catalyst and the Foundation for Health Leadership & Innovation and NC Division of Public Health, Community and Clinical Connections for Prevention and Health Branch for partnering to carry out this work.
To the heroes and sheroes working tirelessly to improve the health and well-being in their communities and across our beautiful state: our sincere gratitude for you and all that you do. Special thanks to our partners in Beaufort, Burke, Cleveland, Edgecombe, Halifax, McDowell, Nash, and Rockingham Counties: It has been an honor to work alongside you as your colleagues, fellow visionaries, and friends in creating healthier communities.
The Catalyst for Healthy Eating and Active Living Team
Contact Jamie Cousins, Catalyst Program Director, at Jamie.firstname.lastname@example.org / (919) 707-5241 for info or with questions.