HPRC Quarterly Highlights: Q1 2023

2023 has been off to a great start for the HPRC! We’re continuing to advance our Center’s mission through our core research work with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Boston Public Health Commission, our regular connections with a network of over 900 public health professionals through the CHOICES Community of Practice, continued sharing of resources, and sharing the successes of our Leaders in Health alumni. Below we highlight some accomplishments within the four key areas in which our Center is focused. Learn more about our Center aims here.

Collaborate with Partners to Identify Evidence-Based Interventions

Year 4 of the Massachusetts-CHOICES Project Kicks Off
The HPRC is currently in its fourth year of its core research project, the Massachusetts-CHOICES Project, which collaborates with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) and the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of strategies to promote healthy eating, active living, prevent excess weight gain, and improve health equity. During the first three years of the project, the health agency teams participated in training and technical assistance sessions and convened key partner organizations to identify data and gather input needed to project the costs, health outcomes, and impacts of 10 evidence-based strategies.

This year, our work is focused on disseminating these project findings to key audiences to inform future project planning and prioritization. MDPH and BPHC are brainstorming potential activities to disseminate the project findings and are connecting with key partner organizations to support these efforts. Potential dissemination methods that are being considered include conference presentations, setting up meetings with local organizations, and creating short videos featuring partners and success stories. We look forward to collaborating with MDPH and BPHC and their partners to share these project findings and support the translation of research into action!

Promote Healthy Weight, Nutrition, Physical Activity, & Health Equity

Coffee Chats with the CHOICES Community of Practice: Engaging Decision-Makers, Data-Based Decision-Making, & Roundtable Discussions
The CHOICES Community of Practice is an initiative of the CHOICES Project at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The CHOICES Community of Practice provides opportunities for public health professionals to connect and learn with others to understand how a cost-effectiveness analysis framework can advance obesity prevention, healthy eating, and active living efforts and address health equity. Since launching in 2020, the Community of Practice has grown to include a network of over 900 individuals from local health departments, state health departments, academic institutions, and other types of organizations. One of the key ways in which we engage with our networks is by holding regular coffee chats – informal conversations around relevant topics to encourage sharing and networking with others in the field. Check out our coffee chats held so far this year:

Offer Resources & Training Opportunities

New Resources & Publications
We are always working to share new resources, tools, and peer-reviewed publications that align with our Center’s Priority Areas. This quarter, we published the following:

An Overview of the Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity
This document provides an overview of our Center and highlights what we do, why it matters, who we support, and our vision and mission.

Get the Facts: Movement Breaks in the Classroom Grades K-5
This new fact sheet highlights the importance of incorporating movement breaks in school classrooms, grades K-5, and includes practical tips for teachers.

Get the Facts: Sugary Drink Consumption
This new fact sheet highlights the latest evidence on sugary drink consumption and practical tips for making healthier beverage choices.


Build Capacity for Conducting Community-Engaged Research

Five Questions with a Leaders in Health Alumnus: Ricardo Henry
The Leaders in Health program strengthens community health initiatives through introductory training in public health research and science. The goal of Leaders in Health is to build the capacity of our community partners by providing participants with an introduction to the fundamentals of community-based participatory research, program planning, and evaluation. Participants attend interactive training sessions, complete assignments, and receive support to create an action plan to enhance their work.

Five Questions with Ricardo Henry

Headshot of Ricardo Henry<

We’re excited to regularly feature Leaders in Health alumni both in our quarterly updates and on the Leaders in Health page to highlight the successes that they accomplished in their cohort and beyond in their daily work. This quarter, we’re featuring Ricardo Henry, Community Leader at Health Leads, who participated in the 2022 Leaders in Health Cohort and answered five questions about his experience and what he’s up to now.

What drew you to participate in the Leaders in Health program?
The Leaders in Health Program seemed like it would give me the tools to do exactly what I wanted to do with and for my community, and it did.

What was your Leaders in Health project about?
My project was and still is about partnering with the community to build a group of leaders who are at the forefront of all decision making about food security, by reminding everyone what eating healthy looks like, sharing resources and helping to shape policy that work for underserved communities, access to healthy produce and fruit and cooking classes, learning to cook a healthy meal that only cost $25 and 30 mins to make to feed a family of four.

What was your favorite part of participating in Leaders in Health?
I met so many nice people who were also working to improve the lives of their community members and I enjoyed learning the best way to bring the community together for a cause that’s important to everyone.

What are you up to now? Any plans for the future?
I am doing exactly what I set out to do. Having community meetings with approximately 30 members every other week, having healthy food distributions every week, cooking classes, creating access to community leadership development, building relationships with orgs who are working on policy. Plans for the future are to build relationships with schools to get more youth involved in community service.

What advice would you share to those who might be interested in applying for a future Leaders in Health cohort?
My advice would be to know or have an idea of what you want to pursue as a project first, and build on the plan as you gain the appropriate tools needed while in the classes.

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