It was standing room only on the Hill last Wednesday, as Prevention Institute, in partnership with Senator Tom Harkin, Chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; and Representative Barbara Lee, sponsored a joint congressional briefing Addressing the Intersection: Preventing Violence and Promoting Healthy Eating and Active Living.
The capacity turnout was testament to the fact that congress, federal agencies, and national organizations are interested in understanding the linkages and identifying policy solutions that will make a difference. Presenters highlighted that violence is a preventable, public health issue, and that braided strategies and multi-field partnerships between physical activity, food systems and violence prevention advocates and institutions are needed to foster healthy and safe communities.
- Linda Degutis, Director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at CDC talked about the burden of violence and emphasized what works to prevent violence,
- Virginia Lee, Program Manager at Prevention Institute and co-author of Addressing the Intersection, highlighted the connections between healthy eating, active living and violence based on research and interviews with community practitioners,
- Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith, UNITY Co-Chair, clarified why violence is not only a criminal justice issue but also a public health issue and provided evidence that violence is preventable, and
- Councilman Paul Lopez talked about successes they are having in his Denver district to simultaneously prevent violence and promote healthy eating and active living.
Prevention Institute left DC to present with panelists from Denver, CO and Chula Vista, CA on the same issue at the Smart Growth conference in North Carolina, where we spoke to another capacity crowd, this time including practitioners interested in implementing these approaches in their communities.
There is still more to learn. Prevention Institute plans to conduct additional research on the relationship between community violence as well as other forms of violence to other health issues (e.g., asthma and mental health). Prevention Institute will continue to learn from on-the-ground efforts to address the intersection and disseminate promising strategies that can enhance practice and healthy and safety outcomes. We look forward to the partnerships and opportunities to further this work at local, state, and national levels that were generated through these events, and would like to extend our thanks to Kaiser Permanente and Convergence Partnership for their support of this important work.
Read Violence Prevention Needs Political Will, a blog post covering the briefing by Shaun Gray of Afterschool Alliance.