Mobilizing Communities to Create Systemic Changes

By: Denise Everson  

Obesity has been described as the “last remaining socially acceptable form of prejudice” (Stunkard and Sobal, 1995) and is considered a “global epidemic” by the World Health Organization (WHO). In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults (39%) were overweight and 381 million children were overweight or obese, a documented form of malnutrition (WHO). Obesity is correlated with higher incidence of non-communicable diseases, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers, which contribute to poverty and hinder economic development (Global Health Observatory). Addressing issues of food injustice, reducing disparities among social groups, and improving access to resources influences health and creates sustainable improvements in health outcomes. In collaboration with community partners at national, state and local levels, both public and private, university faculty are working with at-risk communities to assess needs and develop evidence-based strategies to improve access to healthier foods and increase physical activity, to reduce the rates of obesity and improve economic viability. Education and action-based programs were initiated in communities to improve awareness and well-being. Environmental and systematic changes were implemented to improve access and remove systemic injustices related to health drivers (i.e. Fresh Stop Market, Master Gardener, community gardens). Learners will explore techniques for establishing coalitions that support effective interventions, identify potential partners, and develop an action plan for individual community assessment. After this workshop, participants will have the framework for implementing community-wide initiatives and nurturing systemic change as a way to move from direct education to policy and environmental solutions to create sustainable social change.

community development
Community Diversity and Governance
Workshop Presentation

Denise Everson

Family and Consumer Sciences Program Development Coordinator , Cooperative Extension , The University of Georgia