IDEA’s campaign unites our members with those of other organizations in a joint effort to reach out to nonexercisers. Our commitment is to provide you with information and sources so you can act locally.
As more and more people fall prey to the deleterious effects of obesity, lawmakers seek ways to weave physical activity initiatives into public policy. As civic mouthpieces, legislators are driven to act in the best interests of constituents.
Not every idea makes it to fruition, and bills that start out one way may look completely different if and when they reach the executive branch. Successful policies can also succumb to budget cuts, as might currently happen with the Carol M. White Physical Education for Progress (PEP) Program (read about it in the May issue of IDEA Fitness Journal, page 14).
That said, the mere act of introducing wellness-related bills and shepherding them through Congress builds a strong foundation for the future. Awareness is a breeding ground for action; and IDEA members are action oriented. That’s why it’s so important to stay informed. As of press time, the following health-related items are being considered by Capitol Hill.
In an effort to reach out to underserved populations, the Healthy People, Healthy Choices Act of 2005 (H.R. 161) authorizes the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct minority health programs. The bill sanctions campaigns that focus on nutrition, exercise and healthy-lifestyle education. Under the current version of the bill, not-for-profit organizations that service African-American and other minority groups may qualify for grants. Grantees must use the allocated funds to provide information about proper nutrition and physical activity.
The National Health Promotion Resolution (H. Res. 35) acknowledges the health and financial burdens placed on Americans by chronic diseases related to poor lifestyle choices. The resolution calls for the federal government to use its powers “to enhance the science base required to fully develop the field of health promotion and disease prevention” and “to explore how strategies can integrate lifestyle improvement programs into national policy, healthcare workplaces, families and communities.”
The Health Promotion FIRST (Funding Integrated Research, Synthesis and Training) Act (S. 628) provides increased planning and funding for health promotion programs in the Department of Health and Human Services. It acknowledges egregious lifestyle factors that lead to poor health and sets the groundwork for strategic action over the next decade.
The Healthy Workforce Act (S. 2558) was originally introduced in June 2004 as part of the HeLP (Healthy Lifestyles and Prevention) America Act. It provides employers a 50% tax credit of up to $200 per employee for comprehensive health promotion programs and calls for a national campaign to explain the financial rewards of health promotion to business leaders. It also directs the CDC to develop model program guidelines. Note: This legislation will be reintroduced in 2005 and assigned a new number.
Health promotion is a common theme this year in the 109th Congress. As a fitness professional, you already have the tools to promote wellness. If you don’t want to wait until a bill becomes law to make a difference in your own community, try the following ideas from Promoting Physical Activity: A Guide for Community Action (Human Kinetics 1999):
- Establish small-group classes or support groups for special sites, target audiences or the community at large.
- Set up help lines to offer additional information and support.
- Develop community resource lists so that people will know where to find physical-activity-related clubs, organizations or events.
- Build coalitions or health-planning task forces to plan and carry out health promotion activities.
- Work with local health professionals to improve their physical activity assessment skills and help them be more supportive of patients who are trying to increase their physical activity levels.
Are your clients obese, disabled or just starting to exercise after years of sedentary living? We want to hear how you are motivating, challenging and retaining clients on a long-term basis. In 200 words or less, detail the specifics of your program and client[s], along with your name and contact information. If your success story is compelling and unique, we may use it in a future issue or on the Inspire the World to Fitness™ section of the website.
E-mail: [email protected]
Mail: Sandy Todd Webster
10455 Pacific Center Court
San Diego, CA 92121-4339
Fax: (858) 535-8234
Do you want to stay on top of legislation that affects the fitness industry? Use the World Wide Web to research and advocate your viewpoint. It’s easier than ever to contact members of the U.S. House and Senate and to share your thoughts. (To find your representative, go to www.house .gov/writerep/.) You can also check on the status of a bill or resolution by going to http://thomas.loc.gov/home /thomas.html and typing in a keyword or bill number. The following organizations offer direct access to legislation updates and actions:
- International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association—Legal and Legislative Issues, http://cms.ihrsa.org
- American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance—Advocacy Legislative Action Center, http://member .aahperd.org/advocacy/
After you’ve familiarized yourself with the issue you’d like to champion, prioritize your actions as follows:
- Contact congressional representatives by phone.
- Write congressional representatives a letter.
- Schedule multiple follow-up calls with each representative.
- Meet in person with your representative if possible.
- Write a letter to the editor of your local paper.
- Contact the health editor of your local paper and educate him or her on the issue.
- Contact your local TV news and radio stations and offer to do an interview.
- Let your friends and colleagues know about the issue.
For more information, resources and tips, visit Health Promotion Advocates, www.healthpromotionadvocates.org.
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