Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Buncombe County's Public Health Advisory Council announces winners of 2014 RWJF Culture of Health Prize

Buncombe County’s Collaborative Work to Close the Health Equity Gap Gains National Recognition

Buncombe County is one of six winners of the 2014 Culture of Health Prize awarded annually by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) in Princeton, New Jersey. The prize honors communities that are harnessing the collective power of leaders, partners, and stakeholders to help residents live healthier lives. Buncombe County received a cash prize of $25,000 in recognition of its commitment to building a Culture of Health. 

In an effort to leverage this prestigious national award for our community, Buncombe County’s Public Health Advisory Council chose to redistribute the prize money through a competitive, community-wide award process in order to support organizations working collaboratively to address health issues in Western North Carolina. There’s more work to be done in Buncombe County, including improving access to healthy foods, increasing accessibility to physical activity, improving the health of future mothers, and assuring the positive, early development of every child in Buncombe County.

However, the Prize gives an opportunity to pause, reflect and celebrate what has been accomplished. In spite of abundant challenges and complicated solutions to building a Culture of Health, Buncombe County is making true, sustainable impactthrough collaborative efforts, like the initiatives chosen by Buncombe County’s Public Health Advisory Council to be supported by awards from the Culture of Health Prize funds. The collaborations that received awards will work to provide positive parenting education, encourage grassroots, youth-led programming for teens, support community gardens and the promotion of healthy eating, provide practical help with meal planning and a supportive community for homeless or newly housed individuals, enhance relationships among primary care providers and community partners using the Adverse Childhood Experience framework, drive tobacco cessation advocacy and development for teachers, and meals and training for at risk youth.

Just as the community came together to create a shared vision, this is a shared recognition. Key partners include the leadership of Public Health Advisory Council, the 70+ organizations that are participating in the Community Health Improvement Process, and the support and infrastructure of the Health and Human Services Board and staff. The organizations collaborating on these Culture of Health mini-award initiatives include:

Addiction, Recovery, and Prevention Services
Asheville City Schools Preschool
Buncombe County Health and Human Services
Innovative Approaches
Children First/Communities in Schools
Eliada Homes, Inc.
Family Preservation Services
Gardens United
Goodwill Industries
Grand Father Home/Barium Springs
Hall Fletcher Elementary School
Haywood Street Congregation
Homeward Bound
Mission Hospitals
Mission’s Nicotine Dependence Program
Mt Zion Community Development, Inc.
Planned Parenthood
Searchlight Consulting
The Housing Authority of the City of Asheville (HACA)
Triple P
Verner Center for Early Learning
WNC Rescue Ministries
YMCA of Western North Carolina
YWCA of Asheville

“We are pleased to have been chosen as a RWJF Culture of Health Prize community,” said Gibbie Harris, Health Director, Buncombe County Health and Human Services. “This work celebrates numerous cross-sectored, public/private partnerships and innovative community efforts to improve the health of our residents.” 

“Just as our community came together to create a shared vision, this is a shared recognition,” said Paul Vest, CEO and President of YMCA of Western North Carolina. “It is a true testament to our focused and collaborative efforts to close the health equity gap.”

“The RWJF Culture of Health Prize winners are leading some of the nation’s most innovative efforts to build a national Culture of Health,” said Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, RWJF president and CEO. “These communities are inspiring examples of what is possible when all sectors work together so that every resident has the opportunity to live a long and healthy life.”

Buncombe County was among six communities selected from more than 250 prize applications across the country. The other winning communities are Brownsville, Texas; Durham County, North Carolina; Spokane County, Washington; Taos Pueblo Tribal Community, New Mexico and Williamson, West Virginia. Learn more about the RWJF Culture of Health Prize and watch a video profile of Buncombe County and the other prize winners at

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