Was EPODE’s Consultation on RiseVT Productive?

Yes, it was very productive and inspiring to have leaders of EPODE, the world’s largest childhood obesity prevention network, come to Vermont to assess RiseVT and work with Franklin & Grand Isle counties’ Community Committee on Healthy Lifestyles.  Experts from France and Canada met with us to finish their assessment of RiseVT and identify how we could more fully align with their evidence-based methodology which has proven to reduce childhood obesity in programs around the world. They also spoke with leaders here in our community and at the State level about the results of the EPODE methodology, the value of primary prevention, how we might strengthen RiseVT, and how we might bring our promising program Statewide to help all Vermonters join in embracing healthy lifestyles. 

It was so energizing and affirming to have RiseVT earn a score of 85 out of 100 on the EPODE assessment!  That score became amazing when EPODE Director Pauline Harper shared that our 85 puts RiseVT among the top ten highest rated programs among their 46 programs spread across 30 countries worldwide.  Recognizing that RiseVT has accomplished that status in only 9 months, Pauline said “RiseVT is farther along and more developed than any other program at the same age that I’ve seen, except maybe one.”  What a powerful statement!

That ranking is a tribute to the passionate work of RiseVT Coordinator Dorey Demers and the incredible energy of the RiseVT team. It is also a tribute to collaborations throughout our community, to the vision of RiseVT Medical Director Dr. Elisabeth Fontaine, and to the persistence of the Community Committee on Healthy Lifestyles. I know that Judy Ashley, the District Director of the Vermont Department of Health with whom I co-chair the committee, joins me in thanking all involved in RiseVT. In only 9 months, RiseVT has engaged 8,800 individuals, 44 businesses, 12 schools, and 9 municipalities!  People are embracing healthier lifestyles, businesses are expanding wellness offerings, schools are helping kids get more active and eat better, and municipalities are changing policies and adding infrastructure.  Step by step, our culture is shifting to having the healthy choice be the easy choice. RiseVT is working!

As one would expect with a young program, even one with such healthy momentum, there are things we can do to be more effective.  We must continue to hardwire wellness into our everyday lives in every sector of our community. EPODE’s recommendations will call on RiseVT to expand our public-private partnerships; to strengthen our use of research and evaluation; and to refine our use of thematic campaigns. At the State level, we need to incorporate sustained investment in primary prevention (keeping healthy people healthy) into our healthcare reform efforts, as prevention is proven to improve quality of life and reduce overall healthcare costs. The Trust for America’s Health shares research which says a 5% reduction in obesity in the US would result in savings of $29 billion and the Prevention Institute shares research which says each $1 invested in prevention saves $5.60 in healthcare costs. Those statistics are staggering, but what they say is that we are on the right path with RiseVT and embracing healthy lifestyles. 

We are fortunate to have the attention and interest of many key individuals here in our region and at the State level. I was so pleased to have members of the NMC Board and Medical Staff, local business leaders, and key community partners join us for a presentation from EPODE during their visit. The next morning, as we discussed EPODE with the Green Mountain Care Board (who has been instrumental in making RiseVT a reality), I was thrilled to be joined by colleagues from Blue Cross Blue Shield, OneCare Vermont, UVM Medical Center, the Vermont Department of Health, the Vermont Hospital Association, our Legislature Delegation, Health First ACO, the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness, and other key partners. RiseVT has caught the attention of leaders and stakeholders both locally and statewide and we can build on that interest to create a healthier future for our community and for Vermont.    

Please join me in congratulating the RiseVT team on such an impressive assessment! Such great work! The best way to do this is to join us in the healthy fun of RiseVT.  Get started by completing an individual scorecard out at www.risevt.com and watch for information in every Tuesday edition of the St. Albans Messenger and out on social media.  Join us as we rise! 

— Jill Berry Bowen, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer