How We're Furthering the Culture of Health This Summer

Jun 19, 2013, 3:28 PM, Posted by Anna Heling

Strawberry Picking RWJF Program Officer Jasmine Hall Ratliff said a trip to the strawberry patch was a great way to show her 3-year-old daughter where food comes from.

Promoting a “culture of health” isn’t just a 9-to-5 job for RWJF employees; many of them also use their time out of the office to further their push toward health and well-being. As Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, president and CEO, describes it, creating a culture of health means having “the kind of values where we can say health, and the policies and practices that go into making sure we are a healthy community, are as much a part of us as are the values that say we pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Here, in the first in a series, members of the RWJF crew talk about how they’re furthering this healthy mindset throughout the summer months.

BEING A HEALTHY ROLE MODEL: Jasmine Hall Ratliff (Program Officer for the Childhood Obesity team)

After losing her mother to cancer at a young age, Hall Ratliff grew up with a single father who instilled in her the importance of healthy living: he used the office gym, cooked at home and encouraged the kids to participate in sports. Now, as a relatively new mom herself, Hall Ratliff is working to foster that same culture of health in her 3-year-old daughter Beverly. She said the family’s garden on the balcony and trips to the local strawberry patch help demonstrate where food comes from and the importance of local produce. For Hall Ratliff, losing her mother to cancer and her dad’s subsequent healthy role modeling reinforced the importance of creating a culture of health. “Losing my mother to cancer at a young age makes me value my own health and do all I can to prevent the diseases that I can prevent. It’s important to me, and I want my daughter to understand healthy living.”

BIKING UP THE COAST OF CONNECTICUT: Robin Hogen (Vice President, Communications)

For the second year in a row, Hogen will bike the 100-mile route from Stamford to Essex to benefit the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center, an organization that provides free legal assistance to veterans recovering from homelessness and mental illness. The cycling enthusiast heard about the Legal Center from a friend and said pushing the pedals is a healthy way to raise money for a cause that’s important to him. He’s prepping for the ride by cycling a few times a week, as well as keeping active through running and sailing. As for the ride, he said it’s all about the exercise—and the organization: “You have to remind yourself that it’s not a race; it’s about finishing. Not finishing first…just finishing.”

GIVING BEES A HOME: Sherry DeMarchi (Communications Specialist)

The animal lover and her husband are prepping their yard for a new type of creature: bees. DeMarchi said she recently learned that the number of wild bee colonies is dwindling fast, which research shows will have an effect on the availability of fruits and vegetables (they pollinate many agricultural crops). “Because of the high use of insecticides and pesticides and habitat loss, we’re seeing this dramatic decrease in the abundance of these bees,” DeMarchi said. “Although it doesn’t involve a lot of physical activity, we feel that we’re contributing toward the culture of health by working toward keeping these important little beings in the ecosystem so they can pollinate…and everybody can eat.” DeMarchi’s prepping her yard for the thousands of visitors, building the hives in an old fort of her son’s and visiting friends who’ve “housed” bees themselves to get some tips.