Shaping Healthy Futures

What do we mean by our tagline, “Shaping Healthy Futures”? This could mean many different things to different people. To me, this phrase gets to the heart of the work that we do – we try to have a positive impact on the health, education, and welfare of children, families, and communities as they grow, develop, and transform. We have this impact through health communications and social media, training and technical assistance (T/TA), and monitoring and evaluation (M&E).

Through health communications and social media, we are trying to influence people’s behavior to discontinue unhealthy behaviors and to adopt healthier behaviors. We are trying to prevent infections, addictions, and other disorders. Through T/TA, we are educating and assisting professionals to adopt best practices in prevention and treatment programs. Through M&E, we are helping programs to improve their performance so that they can better serve children and families, resulting in healthier outcomes.

When I founded Danya International 15 years ago, our first contract was a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) project for $100,000 to develop an online drug and alcohol screening assessment that we called DAPA. Although we were not able to commercialize the product, we still maintain it online at www.dapaonline.com, and it is a model for online assessment (we were ahead of our time…). This past month, 15 years later, we were awarded the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Behavioral Health Services, Information, Referral, Public Engagement and Communications Platform contract for the next 5 years. This major national contract builds on our experience with SBIRs, National Prevention Information Network (NPIN), Clinical Preceptorship Program, and many of our other projects, and it will give us the opportunity to have a real social impact on reducing drug use and addiction, as well as promoting mental health education across the country. This contract will allow us to shape healthy futures in a major way.

Our latest venture in shaping healthy futures in East Africa, expanding on our work in HIV and other infection prevention, is in promoting food security through both communications and M&E. This work involves assisting farmers to improve their productivity and business capabilities to provide stable and healthy food resources for the people in their countries, as well as develop viable healthy economic futures for themselves and their families.

So, what does “shaping healthy futures” mean to you? I encourage you to share your thoughts, stories, and ideas there on the blog and to have an exchange of ideas.

Sincerely,

Jeff
Chief Executive Officer

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3 thoughts on “Shaping Healthy Futures

  1. When I think of “shaping healthy futures”, I think of all we are already doing in each department of Danya but especially of the work I do for the Office of Head Start. As many already know, one of the major initiatives in Head Start and many other educational agencies across the country is to reduce the incidence of obesity among young children and their families. I would love to see Danya take a leadership position in pushing this discussion on a National level by working on an educational proposal for stronger USDA guidelines to promote healthy eating. Currently, USDA laws allow levels of fat, salt, and sugar in cyclical menus that are not the least bit healthy. As we know many children get the bulk of their nutrition through school breakfasts and lunches that meet the guidelines, but fall very short of establishing healthy food patterns in children. This has been a constant battle since I began my career in early childhood in 1988, and I think our professional health staff has a chance to move things forward. Head Start has always been a leader in providing healthier options for young children, but the USDA rules lag behind. It seems with First Lady Obama’s Let’s Move campaign in the forefront, the time for discussions about healthier USDA guidelines would be timely.

  2. “I never thought I had it in me to aspire to something better…” This was the catch phrase that grabbed my attention as I waited in line at the grocery store. A lady was sharing her story about she moved on in life from being a victim of abuse to become an opportunity for many women to aspire and reach their full potential. As the woman shared her story and the projects she was involved in, I thought about the power we have to become trend setters, creative visionaries, energetic and enthusiastic collaborators, but most of all, a positive influence in the life of others. Shaping healthy futures means the empowerment we promote and support through all the services we provide at Danya to positively influence processes and systems, communities and individuals. As we engage in projects to promote growth–in knowledge, resources, and enthusiasm–we are shaping a possibility that so many don’t dare to think about: something better. That’s what we do… We believe, promote and engage to be a positive influence in others and contribute to their growth, adding value and opening the door for a healthier and brighter future.

  3. One of the things that stands out in my mind about shaping healthy futures is when it was discussed at Danya about using cell phones to give patient information and using video to watch patients taking their TB meds in Kenya. Many patients refuse or forget to take their medications and it can develop into a drug resistant TB epidemic. At the time it seemed far-fetched, but with cooperation with clinics, telecommunications and other partners, we were able to make it happen. Other things happened as a result, including a series of television programs in Kenya.

    Any way that Danya can make an inlaid into the world’s healthcare challenges, Danya is willing to do. It will be exciting to watch Danya on the frontier of improving health through technology.

    Recently, Danya has been seeking to assist the FDA with tobacco control. Tobacco is a killer and smoking cessation is in the heart of the founder of Danya. As with any new venture with government agencies, it is difficult to get an inside, but that will not stop the determination that Danya has. Who knows what will develop as a result?

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