"Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together." 

-James Cash Penney

Dear HEAL partners and supporters,

2017 marks the tenth year of the HEAL Initiative. 2017 will also be a year of change for HEAL.

Our history

HEAL was conceived in 2006 when the HNH Foundation convened state and regional funding partners, and state agencies and other stakeholders representing multiple sectors to address the need to prevent obesity across all populations in New Hampshire. With input from over 200 stakeholders, the first statewide action plan was developed and the HEAL Initiative officially launched in 2008.

HEAL has grown into an expansive network of state- and community-level partners that has collectively achieved remarkable progress advancing population-based strategies to reduce the prevalence of obesity and chronic disease in our state. As a result, healthy, affordable foods and safe places to play and be active are more readily available to children and adults from Nashua to Colebrook and the Seacoast to the Upper Valley. This could not have happened without the HNH Foundation's vision and generous support, investing over $1.6 million over the past ten years.

The HEAL team here at the Foundation for Healthy Communities has been honored to lead the HEAL Initiative for these many years. While it is our hope and intention that our network of state and community partners will continue to advance HEAL throughout the state, our leadership role will be changing.

Our new focus

This year, the Foundation for Healthy Communities is launching a new and exciting Total Population Health Initiative. The initiative is a natural evolution for the Foundation for Healthy Communities which has long worked at the intersection of health care, public health and the social determinants of health to improve the health and well-being of NH residents. HEAL will both inform and become a vital part of our Total Population Health Initiative. We will soon convene stakeholders and leaders, including our HEAL partners, to develop a consensus approach to support the advancement of population health in the next three to five years. With its strong focus on targeting the social determinants of health and health disparities, HEAL will greatly inform these efforts.

Several HEAL strategies will be integrated into our Total Population Health Initiative. As resources permit, we will continue to play a lead role in active recreation and providing training and space for HEAL Community Network partners to convene, share best practices, and learn from one another. In areas where we have been a strong collaborator, such as active transportation, healthy food access and healthy food in health care, we will work to maintain our partner connections and support ongoing efforts as we can.

Our new roles

HEAL team roles are changing, too. We are pleased to announce that Beth Gustafson Wheeler has been appointed the Foundation for Healthy Communities' Population Health Director and will lead our efforts to develop and implement the Total Population Health Initiative. Effective July 1, HEAL Director, Terry Johnson; will assume a new role at the Foundation for Healthy Communities. He will serve as Director of the NH Comprehensive Cancer Collaboration, which has a HEAL objective in its 2015-2020 Cancer Plan.

Our impact

During our nine years as the HEAL Home, we have seen HEAL become a catalyst for change and a force for promoting healthy people and places in our state. The HEAL Network has lifted HEAL up as a model for integrating health across sectors, incubating new programs, and employing population-based strategies to address the social determinants of health and health equity. State agencies and institutions, including the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Transportation, and Department of Education have adopted HEAL strategies and principles. Colleges and universities have integrated HEAL into their educational curriculums and initiatives. HEAL has informed the work of statewide initiatives and organizations, such as the NH Comprehensive Cancer Collaboration, NH Health & Equity Partnership, NH Recreation and Parks Association, NH Food Alliance, NH Hunger Solutions, and NH Hospital Association. HEAL has been a voice for and influenced state-level policies and initiatives in such areas as school nutrition, land use and planning, complete streets, food systems, and food insecurity.

The HEAL Network has implemented active transportation and recreation infrastructure improvements in communities and shifted the way communities and state-level entities make investments. Communities have found innovative ways to address healthy food access, sharing their successes and lending valuable insight for other communities to do the same. The HEAL Community Network is robust and blankets the state, serving most of our residents and cities and towns.

All the elements are in place for HEAL to continue having an impact on our state. We will rely on our partners to help carry on the work, secure new resources and sustain HEAL in community- and state- level initiatives. Such collaboration has been the hallmark of HEAL since its inception and will continue to help HEAL thrive into the future.

Thank you!

We wish to thank the HNH Foundation for its leadership and generous support, and for continuing to provide funding for childhood obesity prevention. We also wish to thank all the other funders that have supported HEAL throughout the years, including the Endowment for Health, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, NH Charitable Foundation, and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation.

Finally, we extend a special thanks to our HEAL partners for their dedication and support and look forward to continuing our partnerships to create a culture of health throughout our state.

With gratitude,

Terry Johnson
Director, HEAL NH
Foundation for Healthy Communities
   Beth Gustafson Wheeler
Director of Population Health
Foundation for Healthy Communities

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