The Voices for Healthy Kids Health Equity in Public Policy Messaging Guide for Policy Advocates was released last week at the American Public Health Association conference and is available to use in your campaign now!
At Voices for Healthy Kids, advocating for health equity is not optional. It’s our mission. And advocates across the country are making great strides in supporting policies that help children grow up at a healthy weight. This is cause for celebration!
At the same time, we must remain vigilant to ensure that our work creates the greatest benefit and avoids unintended consequences. For example, policies are often intended to benefit “all children.” The challenge is that some areas lack access to benefits created by these policies, continuing a cycle of structural and historic discrimination. In our quest to improve conditions for all children it is most effective to start where there is the greatest need—and therefore the greatest relative health impact—and then expand. To do that, the policy itself must include language prioritizing its design, implementation and funding in communities experiencing the greatest health disparities first. Otherwise, it can actually widen the gap rather than promote health equity.
Our opportunity: To advance health equity by ensuring that public policy language prioritizes implementation and funding first in areas of greatest need, then expands to benefit all children.
The goal of this guide: We created this message guide at the request of advocates, all of whom want their policies to effect the greatest positive change. Based on research and tested with decision-makers and voters, it provides messages, tips and insights to help advocates make the case for specific language in public policies to ensure that they are effective in advancing health equity.
On November 15, Voices for Healthy Kids grantees and national stakeholders were able to hear firsthand from an author of the guide, Maria Elena Campisteguy of the Metropolitan Group during the All Grantee meeting in Denver. Maria Elena shared the background on the development of the guide, and two grantees demonstrated putting the messaging guide into practice with their own campaign messaging. The presentation led to insightful discussions among attendees. Jill Birnbaum, Executive Director for Voices for Healthy Kids, stated “We’re bringing this issue [health equity] forward because we know it’s tough. Let’s try to talk about it, practice it and figure out what’s working and what’s failing.”
Full message guide available for download here.