• Local youth groups in Georgia working towards policy, systems, and environmental changes

      Coleman, Anne-Marie; Ray, Kenneth; Toodle, Kia; Chung, Alina; O'Connor, Jean; Georgia Department of Public Health (Georgia Public Health Association, 2016)
      Background: The Georgia Youth Tobacco Survey (YTS) is a survey of public middle school (MS) and high school (HS) students. The Georgia YTS was first conducted in 2001. According to YTS, students who attended a tobacco free schools’ youth summit were significantly more likely to be aware of students who use tobacco products (MS: 21% for smoking and 20% for smokeless tobacco; HS: 42% for smoking and 39% for smokeless tobacco) on school property than students who did not attend a tobacco free schools’ youth summit (MS: 10 % for smoking and 9 % for smokeless tobacco; HS: 32 % for smoking and 35 % for smokeless tobacco. Methods: During the fall of 2014, the Chronic Disease Prevention Section of the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) hosted a youth summit for youth groups across the state. In total, 149 youth and 49 adult leaders attended the summit. The youth summit provided training for middle and high school youth to become tobacco use control advocates in their communities. The youth were involved in creating the messages they would deliver to their school boards. Results: The local youth groups who attended the summit in 2014 were instrumental in four school districts adopting the model 100% Tobacco-Free Schools policy: Lowndes County Schools and Irwin County Schools (Valdosta, GA); Emanuel County Schools and Jenkins County Schools (Augusta, GA). Conclusions: These findings support the growing literature on youth involvement in advocacy work towards policy change. Youth should be recruited to work with public health professionals in building coalitions to change community norms.
    • Partnership approach to establishing tobacco-free colleges and universities in Georgia

      Coleman, Anne-Marie; Ray, Kenneth; Toodle, Kia; Chung, Alina; O'Connor, Jean; Georgia Department of Public Health (Georgia Public Health Association, 2016)
      Background: Smoking rates in young adults ages 18-24 have been steadily declining since 2011 (2011:25.0%, 2012:22.3%, 2013:16.5% (BRFSS). The Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH) partnered with the Georgia Board of Regents to adopt the 100% Tobacco Free Colleges/Universities policy. Methods: The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is a state-based surveillance system, administered by the GDPH in collaboration with the CDC. The survey began in 1984 with 15 states participating, including Georgia. The data from this survey were used to inform key shareholders of smoking prevalence to encourage policy adoption as a method of decreasing tobacco use. The GDPH used the CDC’s Partnership Toolkit to recruit and retain partnerships with various multi-sector organizations in working towards systems change. Results: The Georgia Board of Regents—the governing body for the state’s system of colleges and universities –adopted the model 100% tobacco free colleges/universities policy resulting in a systems change of 31 campuses now having the model policy in place. The policy not only impacted the students who fall in the 18-24 age group, but the staff and visitors as well. Conclusions: Partnerships play a key role in creating systems changes. The partnership between the Georgia Board of Regents and the Georgia Department of Public Health contributed to the growing number of colleges and universities who are now 100% Tobacco Free. Using the CDC’s Partnership Toolkit allowed for sustainable partnerships leading to positive social change.
    • Promoting policy and environmental change in faith-based organizations: Organizational level findings from a mini-grants program

      Hermstad, April K; Arriola, Kimberly; Clair, Shauna; Honeycutt, Sally; Carvalho, Michelle; Cherry, Sabrina; Davis, Tamara; Fraizer, Sheritta; Escoffery, Cam; Kegler, Michelle C.; et al. (Georgia Public Health Association, 2015)
      Background: High rates of heart disease, cancer, and stroke exist in rural South Georgia, where Emory’s Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network provided mini-grants and technical assistance to six faith-based organizations to implement policy and environmental changes to promote healthy eating (HE), physical activity (PA), and tobacco use prevention (TUP). Drawing from a Social Ecological Framework, we hypothesized that church members would perceive an increase in messages, programs, and the availability of facilities to support HE, PA, and TUP over a 1-year period. Methods: Members (N=258) completed self-administered questionnaires that assessed perceptions of the existing church health promotion environment relative to HE, PA, and TUP policies, as well as their eating behavior and intention to use PA facilities at church at baseline and 1-year follow-up. Results: Members at three of the six churches perceived increases in delivery of HE messages via sermons, church bulletins, and food labels, and increased availability of programs that support HE (p<0.05). Members at four churches reported increases in healthy foods served and decreased unhealthy foods served at three churches over the 1-year period (p<0.05). Of the five churches that implemented changes to promote PA, members at two churches perceived increases in healthy PA messages (p<0.05) and those at three churches perceived increased PA facilities (p<.05). One of two churches that implemented TUP policies, according to responses of members, had an increase in messages on smoking, (p<0.05). Conclusions: Community mini-grants may be a viable mechanism for promoting environmental change supporting HE, PA, and TUP policies in church environments.
    • Using our voices -- and using our science

      Hinman, Johhanna (Georgia Public Health Association, 2015)
      At the close of the 2015 Annual Meeting and Conference of the Georgia Public Health Association (GPHA), President Deborah Riner encouraged the assembly to “use your voice[s],” to be advocates for public health. Indeed, the history of our successes in public health reflects a history of advocacy, of speaking up to make change. Our charge is to use our voices to express our passion for public health or specific public health causes, and to use our voices to promote the best available science.