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Advancing Healthy Lifestyles

Chronic Disease, Health Equity, and COVID-19

Advancing Healthy Lifestyles Conference

Join us for the inaugural Advancing Healthy Lifestyles Conference: Improving Health Through Equity. On May 18, we will host a day to learn from experts, hear from a special keynote speaker, participate in peer roundtables, and gain networking opportunities!

Register today

The Goal for AHL

Advancing Healthy Lifestyles (AHL) is part of the Division of Public Health’s Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity Prevention (PANO) Program. AHL’s goal is to reduce adult and childhood obesity, along with other chronic conditions, to achieve long-term health equity for schools, communities, and workplaces throughout Delaware.

Healthy Lifestyles Subcommittee Policy Recommendations, January 2021

We are accomplishing this by addressing:

  • The policies, systems, and environments that impact the social determinants of health (SDoH)
  • The health inequities that communities experience
  • A shared agenda and narrative developed and adopted, together
Family on the beach

PANO Action Plan Development

AHL spearheaded the development of a statewide action plan to implement the recommendations of the Delaware Cancer Consortium’s Cancer Risk Reduction Committee’s Healthy Lifestyles Subcommittee (HLSC). In January 2021, the HLSC released a series of policy recommendations that focused on improving health in three key areas: (1) children ages 0 to 18, (2) worksite wellness, and (3) community-level policies. The action plan translates the HLSC’s recommendations into specific strategies.

To develop the action plan, a survey was distributed to various community partners, including service providers, advocacy organizations, and state and local entities throughout Delaware, to gather input on the HLSC’s recommendations. Building on the survey, a series of focus group discussions using the World Café format took place. More than 50 community partners attended, commenting on each of the HLSC’s recommendations. After the conclusion of the World Café series, Advancing Healthy Lifestyles held several interviews with state agency leaders.

The action plan proposes practical strategies to address the HLSC’s recommendations and identifies the state agency or program that should implement the recommendations, based on the information collected through the survey, focus group discussions, and interviews with state agency leaders. The final action plan provides guidance for next steps to implement each HLSC recommendation.

Mini-Grant Awards

The Delaware Division of Public Health’s (DPH) Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity (PANO) Prevention Program is pleased to announce that it has awarded eight mini-grants to community partners under the Advancing Healthy Lifestyles (AHL) initiative. The purpose of the mini-grant program is to support Delaware community partner organizations with projects that improve community health and reduce chronic conditions through policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) approaches, using a health-equity lens. These eight mini-grant recipients were selected from a large pool of applicants as part of the first AHL mini-grant proposal cycle. Read about the great work that the newest AHL community partners are engaging in!

4-H Cooperative Extension

Promote physical activity in schools, the community, and the workplace, including Walk with Ease, Walk Across Delaware, Walking Through the Holidays, and “plogging.”

Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware

Enhance the educational opportunities of their mini-farm and food education/nutrition programs, as well as enhance their partnerships with local organizations.

City of Newark

Construct a second community garden to foster community and a healthy lifestyle.

Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition

Support a free 12-week free health education program that is open to the public. It focuses on individuals at risk for chronic disease, including breast cancer, aiming to increase physical activity and nutritional knowledge.

Delaware Greenways

Develop, distribute, and promote an updated and culturally relevant map of the Jack A. Markell Trail (digital and print).

Inner City Cultural League

Support a robotic garden, nutrition education, and promoting physical activity.

Worship Christian Center

Implement a healthy food and nutrition initiative that includes food preparation/nutrition classes and a walking club.

YMCA of Delaware

Recruit participants for the LEAN program, which includes education and exercise for those struggling to maintain a healthy weight.

Mini-Grant Initiative Webinar

This previously recorded webinar offers an overview of the application process for the AHL initiative of Delaware’s Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity (PANO) program. Goals, requirements, a timeline and how to apply are all covered in this 28-minute webinar. The AHL initiative is one of the ways PANO is working to improve health outcomes and health equity in schools, communities and workplaces.



July 28, 2022

School Health and Wellness

Comprehensive school health and wellness incorporates physical activity, nutrition, and obesity prevention — all addressed through a variety of measures. These measures include school educational planning, such as supporting curricula and instruction for students in pre-K through grade 12 that will address a variety of important health topics.

To improve health and wellness of school-age students in Delaware, AHL has launched an innovative school-community partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware and a select number of schools in Delaware. Participating schools and Boys & Girls Club teams will implement the Triple Play model, a healthy lifestyle program that offers participants more than 200 activities focused on mind, body, and soul. Triple Play seeks to improve students’ knowledge of healthy habits related to nutrition and physical fitness, increase students’ participation in physical activity, and strengthen students’ skills for engaging in healthy relationships. AHL will pilot Triple Play in three urban and rural locations in Delaware in 2022. The demonstration should yield important lessons about successful school-community partnerships, as well as a model that may be scaled to other sites across Delaware.

Community Capacity Building

Engaging community partners is key to long-term, sustainable health and wellness outcomes. In 2021, AHL supported and strengthened the capacity of three community partners: American Lung Association, University of Delaware–Cooperative Extension, and Delaware State University. These partners received financial support to implement their health promotion models, as well as intensive technical assistance to support planning, implementation, and evaluation of their programs. So far, the community partners have developed an action plan, a theory of change, and a plan for data collection and reporting.

There were three community-based interventions in the planning and implementation stages in 2021.

  • The American Lung Association is implementing staff and student training and supporting policy changes in schools that promote lung health and physical activity among students with asthma.
  • The University of Delaware–Cooperative Extension is implementing a program that connects food producers, retailers, and communities to expand access to healthy foods.
  • Delaware State University is implementing a physical activity program for children with developmental disabilities, paired with a nutrition education program for their parents.

Workplace Wellness

Healthier employees relate directly to better-functioning state agencies. AHL is actively promoting health equity and workplace wellness initiatives for Delaware state employees, with the goal of positively influencing workplace culture and policies as well as encouraging state employees to improve their health.

In line with this work, AHL is leading the development and implementation of a Workplace Wellness Policy for the state of Delaware’s executive branch agencies. The Workplace Wellness Policy will support the organizational capacity and implementation of health promotion activities by executive branch agencies and departments. Health topics addressed by the policy include healthy eating, physical activity, mental wellness, and lactation support, among several others. AHL is also developing a toolkit to support the implementation of individual workplace wellness initiatives. A workgroup with representatives from 18 state agencies, along with staff from the CDC Workplace Health Program, provided input to develop the policy and toolkit. The state aims to implement the Workplace Wellness Policy in 2022.



April 16, 2021

Resources offers a free toolkit of downloadable materials that promote workplace wellness and healthier habits among employees. Use these evidence-based tools to help build morale, increase physical activity, and reduce employee absenteeism — while also reducing health care costs.

AHL Learning Series

These seminar-style webinars, presented live, are now available for download. The AHL Learning Series supports organizations’ capacity building in key programs or services related to PANO priorities, focusing on evidence-based approaches.

Workplace and Employee Wellness

Fri, 03/03/23


  • Dan Finkelstein, Principal Researcher, Mathematica
  • Shebra Hall, PANO Program Administrator, Delaware DHSS/DPH
  • Jason Lang, team lead – Worksite Health Programs, CDC
  • Aaron Schrader, State Human Resource Administrator, Delaware DHR/SBO
  • Jaime Buffaloe, training administrator, Delaware DHSS/DSS
  • Terra Taylor, Deputy Commissioner, Delaware DOC
  • C.R. McLeod, Director of Community Relations, Delaware DOT

The webinar is structured into three program areas. “Benefits to Employers and Employees” covers the value of workplace wellness in terms of morale, quality of life, productivity, and financial risk. The “Current State of Workplace Health and Well-Being in the United States” details the percent of worksites offering wellness programs, a comparison of them, the Workplace Health Model, and best practices. “CDC Tools and Resources” offers information on the health scorecard, progress reporting, case studies, and employer curricula.

Community-School Partnerships; Support During After School

Th, 11/17/22


  • Scott Rosas, Director of Research and Evaluation, Concept Systems Inc.
  • Katie Anderson, Director Youth Programs & Innovation, Boys & Girls Club of America
  • Molly Yoo, Director of Grants Development, Boys & Girls Club of Delaware
  • Andy Celio, Student, Wowzer, Boys & Girls Club of Delaware

This Advancing Healthy Lifestyles (AHL) Learning Series session highlighted the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware’s work to deliver the Triple Play program to hundreds of school-age youth statewide. The panel reviewed the pilot phase of the project, the basics of the Triple Play curriculum, and problem-solving efforts to deliver programming and collect data while navigating staffing challenges, COVID-19 policies, and competing student priorities. During the session, participants also heard from a teen facilitator of the program, who talked about the program’s impact on him.

Promoting Equity in Nutrition Security: How the Social Determinants of Health Affect Healthy Eating

Th, 6/3/21, 12:30-1:30 p.m. EDT (11:30 a.m. Central).

Presented by Angela Odoms-Young, PhD, who is an associate professor and the director of NOHER Research Lab at the University of Illinois Chicago, and the associate director of research and education, Office of Community Engagement and Health Partnerships. Dr. Odoms-Young’s research focuses on the social and structural determinants of dietary behaviors and related health outcomes in low-income and Black/Latinx populations, and culturally appropriate programs and policies that promote health equity, food justice, and community resilience.

Access Passcode: Learning2021!

Valuing Voice in Advancing Healthy Lifestyles: The Community as the Expert Resource

Th, 6/10/21, 12:30-1:30 p.m. EDT (11:30 a.m. Central).

Presented by Mary Kane, who is the president and principal consultant of Concept Systems, Inc., an external contractor working closely with the AHL team. Since 2002, Ms. Kane has worked on strategic planning, communication and promotion planning, and program assessment in public health for Delaware and other state, national, and international programs. Since 2014, she has presented nationally and in Europe on Valuing Voice, emphasizing the SDoH and having a voice in public health planning and decision-making.

Access Passcode: Learning2021!

The 24-Hour Activity Cycle and How It Affects Our Health: Strategies for the COVID Experience and Beyond

Th, 6/17/21, 12:30-1:30 p.m.

Presented by Lee Stoner, PhD, director of the UNC Cardiometabolic Lab. Dr. Stoner has expertise in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases and public health. His research includes investigating associations between lifestyle factors and cardiometabolic risk in children, developing simple strategies for offsetting sedentary behavior and improving cardiometabolic health, and looking at socio-ecological determinants of cardiometabolic disease prevention in underserved populations. Recent publications include those focusing on children, screen time, and the effects of COVID.

Access Passcode: Learning2021!

Promoting a Healthy Lifestyle: A Focus on Heart Disease

Th, 6/24/21, 12:30-1:30 p.m. EDT

Presented by Aisha Tucker-Brown, PhD, MSW. Dr. Tucker-Brown is the senior evaluator in the CDC’s Applied Research and Evaluation Branch, Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. She has led CDC projects on evaluability assessment, rigorous effectiveness evaluations, enhanced evaluability assessments of public health programs, and scaling and spreading effective public health programs. She is currently working on the dissemination of a hypertension management toolkit for health care providers and the development of SDoH performance measures for chronic disease.

Access Passcode: Learning2021!

World Café: Engagement for Policy Recommendations

PANO hosted three World Café events in May 2021, attended by over 50 people in total. Participants from agencies and organizations related to AHL commented on each of the recommendations developed by the Cancer Risk Reduction Committee’s Healthy Lifestyle Subcommittee (HLSC). The participants’ comments and guidance will contribute to the action plan for the HLSC recommendations, which will be complete in July 2022.