The National Initiative for Children's Healthcare Quality

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Be Our Voice is an organization of healthcare professionals. The group was created by the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality (NICHQ), and its object is to persuade healthcare professionals to put on their “community leader” hats to pursue the goal of ending the childhood obesity epidemic. Working with and treating individual children is a basic job, and through Be Our Voice, healthcare professionals voluntarily take on another layer of accountability by accepting leadership roles in the community.

The regulations that affect children’s health are made by legislators, and since they are not born omniscient, legislators need to turn to someone for information and advice. But an organization such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is not allowed to use its resources to attempt to influence legislation related to childhood obesity. So, how can minds be changed?

Such organizations can provide policy briefs and research reports, and can provide technical assistance at the written invitation of a governmental body or committee. Through Be Our Voice, healthcare professionals can speak for the children as their advocates. This is the place with the resources, with the advocacy training tools to help you learn the skills and find the needed technical assistance.

It is really important to understand the difference between lobbying (prohibited) and advocacy (permitted). The publication that helps to do this, the main tool, is a 45-page PDF file titled “Lobbying & Advocacy: Foundation-funded Policy Change,” and it is full of great information.

The manual explains the difference between private foundations and public charities, and outlines the areas in which grant funds can be used to communicate ideas, including broad issues of social policy. It explains how to best communicate through letters to editors, press conferences, newsletters, websites, and even paid advertising under certain conditions.

What else is NICHQ up to? Well, there is the Prevention Center for Healthy Weight and the Healthy Weight Collaborative (HWC). Here is some information about the planned Prevention Center:

There will be two core activities of the Center. The first is to create a resource hub for information and activities designed to meet the healthy weight challenge — a place for practice sharing, quality improvement training and general exchange of information. The second core activity for the Center is to organize and manage a nationwide Healthy Weight Collaborative (HWC), in which fifty trans-sectoral teams from around the country will identify, test and implement program and policy changes in their communities to achieve local healthy weight objectives.

Speaking of mental influence, author Michael Pollan collected more than 2,500 personal eating rules from real people. He aimed to glean nutritionally valid examples of folk wisdom for inclusion in a book, and ended up with much more than he bargained for:

[… A] banquet of food policies that even when they made little, if any, nutritional sense (and therefore didn’t belong in the book) nevertheless opened a window on our current thinking about food: the stories we tell ourselves, the games we play and the taboos we invoke to organize our eating lives.

Some are funny, some are wise, and Pollan has published a large assortment of them with his remarkable essay titled “Rules to Eat By,” which originally has appeared in the New York Times magazine. Here are three excellent examples:

”It’s better to pay the grocer than the doctor’ was the saying that my Italian grandmother would frequently use to remind us of the love and attention to detail that went into her cooking.’ (John Forti)

From my Romanian grandmother: ‘Breakfast, you should eat alone. Lunch, you should share with a friend. Dinner, give to your enemy.’ (Irina A. Dumitrescu)

Eat foods in inverse proportion to how much its lobby spends to push it. (Kirk Westphal)

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “About Be Our Voice,” National Institute for Children’s Healthcare Quality
Source: “Prevention Center for Healthy Weight,” NICHQ
Source: “Rules to Eat By,” MichaelPollan.com, 10/11/09
Image by ^riza^ (Riza Nugraha), used under its Creative Commons license.

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