It was Jan. 6, during a meeting, when Bev Brody’s phone rang. Because someone had just called twice trying to sell her something, she was hesitant to answer as she didn’t recognize the number.
But she did.
There was a silence before a voice on the other end said, “Is this Bev Brody of Get Fit Kauai?”
Brody believed it was that same person with a sales pitch, when that voice said, “Congratulations.”
“I said, ‘For …?’”
The answer stunned the talkative Brody.
“Winning the National Physical Activity Plan Championship Award.”
“I was dead silent. Then I said, really?”
Brody, after apologizing for her initial skeptical response, was thrilled.
“I was ecstatic. Over the top ecstatic,” she said.
Because this is a big deal.
Out of about 2,500 entries, there were only three winners. Get Fit Kauai was one. It means Brody will be going to Washington, D.C., in late February to accept the award. It means national recognition for a program on Kauai. It means Get Fit Kauai is now a national model. People will be looking to Get Fit Kauai for leadership. They’ll be coming here to learn why and how it’s working so well.
Brody, six-year director of Get Fit Kauai, declined to take credit for the award. She said if not for the county of Kauai’s support, if not for others in the community coming on board, it would not be enjoying such a high level of success.
“It’s all about partnerships,” she said.
It was in 2010 when the American College of Sports Medicine and a group of private and public partner organizations released the first National Physical Activity Plan for the United States. The NPAP outlines policies, programs and initiatives designed to achieve a vision: one day, all Americans will be physically active, and they will live, work and play in environments that facilitate regular physical activity. Thousands of organizations, government agencies and individuals have become involved.
The National Physical Activity Plan Association will host the first NPAP Congress Feb. 23-24. It will bring together hundreds of leaders in public health, education, media and government who will review progress and determine priorities for an update to the NPAP, to be released in November.
During the congress, the NPAPA will honor individuals and organizations with the NPAP Champions Award, recognizing their outstanding contributions to improving physical activity in the United States.
Get Fit Kauai was one of three chosen, along with groups in Chicago and Texas.
Changing a lifestyle, getting people to make smarter, healthier choices, is difficult. Americans are known for their love of soda pop and candy. And despite studies on the negative health effects of tobacco, millions continue to smoke cigarettes. It’s reported that about 80 percent of adult Americans do not get recommended amounts of exercise. And few people are willing to walk or bike to where they want to go, when they can drive.
But Get Fit Kauai has found success.
Its task is to improve the health of individuals, families and the community. It does this through programs that promote nutrition, exercise and creating lifelong, healthy habits. Its recent Worksite Wellness Challenge was a success, with 25 companies competing to offer avenues to improve the health of their employees. Some of the things they did included banning tobacco products, replacing candy and doughnuts with fruits and vegetables, putting in jogging/walking tracks and paying for part of a health club membership.
It also puts on the popular Mayor-a-thon that features biking, running and walking, motivational speakers, exercises, and a free healthy breakfast and free T-shirts. It also works on establishing safe walking routes to schools.
Get Fit Kauai is Funded by the State of Hawaii Department of Health’s Healthy Hawaii Initiative through a contract with the University of Hawaii.
“Physical activity and obesity are some of the most important public health problems facing the nation today,” said Jay Maddock, professor in the Department of Public health Sciences at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. “Get Fit Kauai is being recognized as one of the national leaders in the fight against obesity and will surely become a model for counties across America who are trying to control obesity.”
It was Maddock, Brody’s supervisor at UH, who asked Lehua Choy, an evaluator at UH, to submit the report she had prepared about Get Fit Kauai as a nomination for the award.
“Get Fit Kauai is a model for how a community coalition can make meaningful changes to increase physical activity both through short-term and long-term strategies,” she wrote.
Choy wrote that Get Fit Kauai is seen as the catalyst for bringing together government and community-based partners to focus on positive, lasting change.
“Get Fit Kauai is now being looked to as a source of expertise in physical activity promotion and has many practical lessons to share about the ways in which a community coalition can leverage partnerships and foster multi-sectoral collaboration,” Choy wrote.
Brody said the award is something “Kauai can feel very, very proud of.”
She believes the program will continue to grow.
“2015 is going to be a very exciting year for Kauai,” she said.