Obesity and preventable chronic diseases are complex problems with no single cause, and no single solution.
We’re tackling the causes of poor health by taking a ‘systems’ approach
to better understand and respond to the highly complex environments that influence and affect health and wellbeing.
The Healthy Families Lower Hutt prevention workforce focuses on building strong partnerships where people spend their time to create changes that can collectively improve the health and wellbeing of our communities.
Our ultimate goal is transform the places where we live, learn, work and play so that the healthy choice becomes the easy choice in Lower Hutt.
As Ben Youdan, Co-Manager of Healthy Families Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura, described it recently:
“We have to constantly pull back and ask ourselves – is this systems change? Does this rely on conscious choices by individuals or is it about changes to the environment and societal norms?
Will this reset some default in the wider system to make healthy behaviours easier? If so, we’re on the right track.”
Leading healthy change in the Valley
A shining example of systems change in action is John Anderson, Owner-Operator of Stokes Valley New World and a member of the Healthy Families Lower Hutt Governance Group.
Some of his recent changes have included:
- Introducing healthy lunch packs for kids (wholemeal ham or chicken roll with coleslaw, and a packet of raisins and pre-cut apple). At just $3 these store-made packs are an easy and cost-effective solution for parents needing to grab their child some lunch in a hurry.
- Going pro-water. Instead of big brand fizzy drinks, bottled water is in prime position near the front door and in the checkout aisle chiller.
- Healthier option deli meals. You can now find wraps, cottage pie, roast meat and vegetables and other healthier ready meal options in the deli section. These easy, cost-effective meals are made onsite using fresh ingredients – and are proving very popular with locals!
John was also a strong advocate for increasing the number of outdoor smokefree public places in Lower Hutt, and famously brought in a tub of cigarette butts to a Council meeting
to showcase the level of smoking outside his store.
As the only supermarket in Stokes Valley, these healthy changes have the potential to impact some 10,000 residents.
Systems change happens by working with community leaders like John – and you and me. We all have spheres of influence where we can make a difference.
Whether you’re the go-to cook at your marae, are on the Board of Trustees at your child’s school or in charge of catering at work, coach a basketball team or volunteer at the church office – we all have areas we can influence for the better.
You could add more veges and less processed ingredients to your meals, advocate for a water-only school policy, add some more healthy options to your catering order, swap fast food vouchers for Health Promotion Agency’s pro-water Player of the Day certificates
, or put health and wellbeing on the agenda at church meetings.
We can all be a part of creating a healthier Lower Hutt. We can all be game-changers.
Healthy Families Lower Hutt