An Advocacy Academy for Southerners Concerned With Preventing Childhood Obesity

Developing an academy to train advocates for policy change

“I’ve learned so many techniques that I can apply in my daily work life, that I’m anxious to get out and get started using the new education and knowledge.” —Natalie Steed, national coordinator, Institute for America’s Health, Alabama Office

Dates of Project: November 2010—December 2012

Field of Work: Childhood Obesity Prevention

Problem Synopsis: States in the Southern region of the United States have some of the country’s highest obesity rates for both adults and children. Local and state advocacy efforts to advance policies to prevent obesity can help; however, the South lags behind the rest of the country in policy efforts on major issues impacting the quality of life of its residents.

Synopsis of the Work: The project team evaluated the potential impact of the Advocacy Academy in each of the 15 Southern states; selected two states (Mississippi and Alabama) for a training pilot; surveyed academy applicants and selected trainees; developed the academy curriculum; and trained academy participants.

Key Results:

  • The project team launched the Advocacy Academy.
  • Twenty-five participants from Mississippi and Alabama completed the training program and increased their advocacy knowledge and skills.
  • Advocacy Academy participants established statewide advocacy networks in Mississippi and Alabama to address childhood obesity issues.

We did a power mapping exercise … and because of that exercise we brought more people to the table …. We’re working to cultivate them into champions for the issues that we advocate for … ” Rhonda Lampkin, government relations director, Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi