New Research, and Inspiration in Personal Stories

January 11, 2010

by Amanda Chablani, HSC policy specialist

In part because of the ongoing healthcare debate, we’ve seen a slew of new research about the importance of prevention, healthy eating (and here), and regular exercise
getting media attention. It’s always great to see research that
supports healthy eating, physical activity and good environmental
health. This data is incredibly valuable in supporting advocacy for
health and wellness.

I have to admit, though, that it’s
sometimes difficult for me to get personally excited about more and more research telling
us about the benefits of wellness. When I think about the reasons we
need policies to support healthy lifestyles, I often think first about
the personal stories I’ve heard here at HSC about people who have been
involved in efforts to make our schools and communities healthier.

I think about how Rosa Guzman, whom we blogged about here and whose story is now told in a book Be Well,
is inspirational in her transformation from a woman who says she “lived
on the couch” to an active mom, a leader in her community and an
influential member of HSC’s Parents United for Healthy Schools
coalition.

Each year we’re introduced to new culinary
students from Chicago Public Schools who compete to create exciting
healthy menus for our Cooking up Change
benefit and healthy cooking contest, thereby helping us shine a
spotlight on the incredibly challenging job of serving nutritious food
in schools across the US. Some of these amazing students have talked
about their experiences here and here.

And of course, this year hundreds of students from around the country
told their own stories – and the stories of their school facilities –
to members of Congress in the Through Your Lens photo exhibit on Capitol Hill.

Just
as I appreciate and admire all the hard work that researchers are
doing, I’ll continue to look to the individual stories of everyday
people and the work they are doing in communities around the country
for evidence of meaningful change and the true benefits of wellness.