health equity wide

May 25, 2017 8:18 PMCategory: Health Equity

APHA Plan4Health Webinar Series: Summary

As part of the Plan4Health project, the American Public Health Association hosted three webinars in January, March, and May to focus on the areas where Plan4Health projects had success during the three-year grant period.

January: Coalition Building

During the coalition-building webinar, we heard from Tim Gibb and David Edgell from the Delaware Healthy Eating and Active Living (DE HEAL) coalition and Sandra Cummings from Health By Design to talk about coalitions and how they form and function to do the type of work being done with the Plan4Health project.

The presenters discussed coalitions and collaborations and used them interchangeably for the webinar.

A coalition is a an alliance formed for combined action. A collaboration refers to action. Synonyms for a coaltion could be:

  • alliance
  • union
  • partnership
  • bloc
  • caucus
  • federation
  • league
  • association
  • confederation
  • consortium
  • syndicate
  • combine
  • amalgamation
  • merger

That’s a lot of names for the same type of group. More specifically, a coalition refers to a group formed for a specific, common goal.

The key characteristics of a coalition are:

  • includes multiple organizations
  • usually limited in time
  • usually have a very specific goal
  • varying levels of formation
  • may have a specified convener or facilitator

The key characteristics of a collaboration are:

  • a few organizations
  • limited time
  • not necessarily formal
  • may be formed around a shared, specific goal

There are two types of coalitions/collaborations and two types of governance. Coalitions and collaborations are either open or closed. Open types must be easy for participants to contribute their ideas, resources and work. Closed types are used when the subject area is well-defined and it is possible for the convener or facilitator to identify appropriate contributors.

Governance of coalitions and collaborations are either flat or hierarchical. Flat governance means that decisions are made by consensus. Hierarchical governance is when everyone provides a contribution, but decisions are ultimately made by a convener or facilitator.

The type and structure contributes to modes, which can be:

  • open and flat
  • open and hierarchical
  • closed and flat
  • closed and hierarchical

They also shared a great resource website that they used to help determine the type of coalition they wanted to have, Designing Collaboration.

The Delaware coalition and Health by Design shared some successes and challenges and specific health data that indicated how they chose their target populations and how their specific coalitions used the principles of coalition-building and the Designing Collaboration website to successfully work together toward a common goal of implementing the Plan4Health project.

If you missed it, view the webinar: Coalition-Building webinar


March: Physical Activity

During the second webinar in the series, we heard from Terry Johnson of Plan4Health Nashua and Judy Robinson of Design 4 Active Sacramento.

Plan4Health Nashua worked off of existing work already being done by the City of Nashua to address obesity to segue to a Complete Streets project. Nashua is the second largest city in New Hampshire with two-thirds of the population being overweight or obese. Almost 10% of the population lviing below the poverty line and 17.4% of 3rd graders are considered to be obese. The goal of the coalition was to advance street planning and design to support safe walking, biking, and other transportation options.

The HEAL NH initiative had many diverse partners, including:

  • NeighborWorks
  • YMCA of Greater Nashua
  • Greater Nashua Boys and Girls Club
  • Police Athletic Club
  • Goodale’s Bike Shop

The priority activities for the coalition were:

  • Identify and convene multi-sector partners
  • Street mapping and data analysis
  • Audit current Nashua regulations and ordinances
  • Develop Complete Streets training guide
  • Educate community members and decision makers about Complete Streets strategies
  • Engage partners and the community through strategic communications

The coalition used level of traffic stress for bicyclists and GIS street mapping to determine areas where the project could make the greatest impact. They developed an audit to identify gaps in walking access and action steps that could be taken to improve the walking access.


Challenges/Lessons Learned:

  • Assess the political will to begin or finish projects like Complete Streets
  • Adapting to changes in leadership
  • Fostering a “Complete Streets” approach to planning versus advocating for policy enactment
  • Gaining buy-in from the Department of Public Works in Nashua
  • Dispersed vs. centralized approach to planning and policy
  • Communicate neighborhood safety as the key issue and priority


Judy from Design 4 Active Sacramento discussed the leading causes of death in Sacramento County:

  1. heart disease
  2. cancer
  3. stroke

These identified chronic diseases were a direct result of physical inactivity by Sacramento County residents, which could be improved by Sacramento County engaging in active design in communities and neighborhoods. Active design was defined by elements within the built environment that encourage more human powered activity, such as walking, running, or biking. It is essentially health being integrated into transportation, land use, landscape design and other relevant areas.

Active design provides public health, economic, environmental, social and climate resilience benefits. The Active Design project for Sacramento County began as a Complete Streets project, and then continues to combine pieces until it was advocating for policy changes for current development and future developments.


Due to their work, the Sacramento coalition was able to make recommendations and change three statutes in the Sacramento code around active design. Additionally, Sacramento County revised their zoning codes and development design guidelines to include active design as a part of the planning process.

If you missed it, view the webinar: Physical Activity webinar


May: Nutrition

The third and final Plan4Health webinar on nutrition featured two Plan4Health grantees and their work on nutrition planning.

The two feature grantees were:

  • Idaho Plan4Health – Aaron Mondada, MA
  • Plan4Health Tarrant County (Texas) – Melissa Oden, DHEd, LMSW-IPR, MPH, CHES

Idaho Plan4Health

The Idaho Plan4Health Coalition was focused in the Vista neighborhood of Boise, Idaho. Gaps in specific metrics between the City of Boise and the Vista neighborhood, indicated that residents were experiencing some level of food insecurity. These metrics were:

  • Median household income
  • Renter occupied housing
  • Housing built prior to 1979
  • Assessed single family home value
  • Free and reduced lunch participation

The Vista neighborhood had significant gaps with these metrics, ranging from 10-50% differences. The challenges of the Vista neighborhood for strategy design were:

  • Small geographic area
  • Very limited public health data available
  • Community fatigue in taking action

The Idaho Plan4Health coalition had great partnerships with Boise State University, Energize Our Neighborhood Program, Urban Land Institute, and Let’s Move Boise. Plan4Health Vista used a multi pronged outreach approach and had some interesting results.

The success stories from Plan4Health Vista were creation of a Health and Community Services Board, building neighborhood level public health data, and partnerships that will build the long-term sustainability of the project.

Plan4Health Tarrant County

The Plan4Health Tarrant County targeted efforts in three zip codes in Southeast Fort Worth, Texas.  These areas had high levels of poverty, chronic disease, obesity, and low levels of literacy.  The zip codes had two grocery stores and more than 100 convenience stores, most of which were corner stores.

The coalition focused on a corner store initiative and an awareness campaign called “Find Your Superpower.”  The campaign included billboards, direct mail, and ads.  The campaign also featured mobile geo-targeting, which earned 214,000 impressions per week. Hopscotch graphics were installed on sidewalks in neighborhoods, too. Print materials such as posters, flyers, bookmarks, and banners were placed in community meeting places such as:

  • YMCAs
  • Community centers
  • Churches
  • Dentist/doctor’s offices
  • Libraries

The objectives for the corner store initiative were to:

  • Create awareness for enhancements in corner stores and increase availability of better, healthy choices
  • Encourage residents to visit these corner stores
  • Promote the ease of finding healthier food options
  • Share culturally relevant recipes and samples
    • Communicate health benefits and economic savings

If you missed it, view the webinar recording: Nutrition webinar.

The Plan4Health webinar series was full of great information and challenges and lessons learned by our grantees. Check out the Plan4Health cohort webpages for more info.

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