Interact for Health
In 2013, Interact for Health – an organization that catalyzes health and wellness in 20 counties in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana through grants, education, and policy – used the National Prevention Strategy to guide a major shift in the organization’s direction. Having previously focused its grantmaking and policy work on improving access to quality healthcare, the organization saw the passage of the Affordable Care Act as an opportunity to reframe its work and address health issues in a comprehensive, proactive way. Interact for Health chose to support community-led initiatives that strengthen physical and social infrastructure as a way of improving health, wellbeing, and high quality of life.
Utilizing the NPS as a guide for an extensive strategic planning process, Interact for Health identified four strategic areas to improve the overall health of the Greater Cincinnati region. There was considerable overlap between the agency’s strategic areas and the NPS Priorities, enabling the organization to draw from NPS recommendations related to Healthy Eating, Active Living, Tobacco Free Living, Preventing Drug Abuse and Excessive Alcohol Use, and Mental and Emotional Well-Being. Equipped with evidence-based recommendations, Interact for Health moved swiftly from the strategic planning phase to the implementation phase.
Interact for Health is funding the following projects in support of its four strategic areas:
- Healthy Eating: three school districts participate in Cook for America, a three-phase program to improve the nutritional quality of food in schools by increasing scratch cooking
- Active Living: improvements to parks, trails, and other physical infrastructure are accompanied by “Join the Fun” events to encourage families to be active
- Healthy Choices About Substance Use: technical assistance for campuses and communities seeking to implement tobacco-free policies and harm reduction programs
- Mental and Emotional Wellbeing: Mental Health for America will coordinate Mental Health First Aid workshops to be offered to community members that may interact with someone who is in crisis or a distressed state
Throughout its work, Interact for Health offers a strong model for advancing the NPS Strategic Direction of Empowered People by supporting community members’ capacity to lead health promotion activities. Interact for Health:
- Engages community members in advisory councils
- Offers subsidized workshops where community members can strengthen skills such as fundraising and health communications
- Offers technical assistance, coaching and peer-learning opportunities to grantees in its Thriving Communities program
- Uses a health promotion framework, instead of a disease prevention framework, to foster a stronger sense of self-efficacy among community members
Jim Schwab, Interact for Health President and CEO, states: “by helping people to live in healthier communities and to make healthier choices, we can help Cincinnati be the healthiest region in the country.” Within every initiative, Interact for Health focuses on supporting communities that can benefit the most from increased access to resources and capacity-building opportunities. The organization uses this approach to lay the groundwork for a brighter, healthier future.
Participants in Cook for America sharpen their cooking skills to provide healthy meals for school children.