In the late 1990’s, I worked closely with staff of the Partnership for Children (PfC) in the Kansas City Metro area. In particular, I worked with Dr Jim Caccamo, the Executive Director, to help him use data to improve the efforts of the PfC to increase immunization rates, develop a large scale youth mentoring initiative, and to develop and implement a social marketing campaign on behalf of children (the #1 Question Campaign). This slide show summarizes the findings of the #1 Question Campaign in terms of leadership, community systems changes facilitated by community leaders, reach of the campaign in terms of health outcomes (immunization rates), and the behaviors of community members in caring for youth. In the presentation of these data, you can see how the community became progressively engaged in facilitating systems improvements (e.g., new and/or modified programs, policies and practices) relating to the campaign, and that it appears to positively affected more engagement in the lives of children as measured by the random digit dial phone survey. It appears that with significant strategic leadership, a community can influence positive youth development through systems change, social marketing of a consistent sticky message, and leveraging relationships for important shared outcomes.

There are a lot of people working to improve the lives of our children, families and communities. Most of those efforts are aimed at immediate needs. Things that are necessary, and make us feel good about contributing to positive things in the lives of others. This work is important, but it falls short of providing lasting solutions. Treatment approaches are necessary, but not sufficient for solving problems. I often use headaches as an example. People use aspirin, NSAID pain relievers, and other things to relieve the pain. However, headaches are not caused by the absence of aspirin, or NSAIDs, or anything else done to relieve the pain.

Finding the root cause of the headache may be possible, and will make the need for pain relievers unnecessary. What if we could do the same thing with communities?

This presentation summarizes pieces of the puzzle related to building healthier communities, focusing on primary prevention, and generally creating environments that result in people being happier, healthier, and more successful. Click on the following link to view the entire presentation…