ENTRY FROM: 2016 Top Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Daniel Craig

Wellness Through Leadership and Example

Daniel Craig is the Tobacco Prevention Coordinator for Central Kansas Foundation, a non-profit substance abuse treatment center in Kansas with approximately 65 employees. For the last 10 years Daniel has had the privilege of planning and coordinating health promotion and tobacco prevention activities through his involvement in local coalitions like Live Well Saline County and state-wide coalitions like the Tobacco Free Kansas Coalition.

1. I completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at Pittsburg State University and a Master’s of Science degree in Health Promotion & Wellness Management at Missouri State University.  I received the Wellness Councils of America Faculty designation in 2011. Going through the Kansas Health Foundation Leadership Fellows program in 2015 helped me see how bringing together diverse groups of stakeholders can ensure that we address the wellness needs of all community members.  I went into Health Promotion because I love to run and wish that everyone had the opportunity to be healthy and feel good.

2. In 2009 I helped to start the Nutrition & Physical Activity Coalition of Salina (now Live Well Saline County) which I currently chair.  Our vision is: Improving the Health of All Saline County.  We bring together key leaders and community members to address needs in the community around healthy eating and active living to create a supportive environment that makes the healthy choice the easy choice.  An example of an initiative we are currently working on is healthy concessions at Parks & Recreation concession stands.  Two of the concessionaires have added healthy options and signed letters of intent to work towards the ultimate goal of providing 25% of snacks and 50% of beverages that meet the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity healthy guidelines.  We have supported their efforts by helping to identify potential healthy snacks and beverages by doing healthy foods taste tests and getting community feedback on which options they would be most interested in and providing signage to highlight the new healthy options.  Our goal is to help all individuals and organizations see their role in being health & wellness champions in the community.

The WELCOA 7 Benchmarks work well for community-wide health promotion efforts.  We think of Live Well Saline County as the wellness team for our community.  We use both national data (such as the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System) as well as local data (such as our Food Systems Assessment) as well as surveys to identify the areas around healthy eating and active living that we work on such as the healthy concessions initiative, farmers markets, and exploration of a Local Food & Farm Task Force.  Our interventions are based on CDC evidence based strategies and we reach out to other communities to learn from their successes and lessons learned.  By focusing on policy, systems, and environmental strategies we create sustainable change that removes barriers and makes it easier for community members to make healthy choices.  Although we do some programs and events, our main focus is on changing the culture and creating an environment that supports wellness.  Evaluation is woven into the process from the very beginning by clearly identifying the outcomes we hope to achieve.  We look at both short term outcomes like number of signed letters of intent to start providing healthy options, medium outcomes like number of concession sites that provide 25% of snacks and 50% of beverages that meet national healthy food guidelines, and track long term outcomes through data on the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System such as percentage of adults who report consuming vegetables at least one or more times per day.

3. I competed in both cross country and track & field in college and currently do a wide range of races ranging from 5-K’s to the marathon including running the Boston marathon two years ago.  I eat healthy by raising a garden and purchasing local food from our farmers markets. 

In addition to serving on local coalitions I Chair the Primary Prevention Committee for the Chronic Disease Alliance of Kansas and serve on several boards including the Kansas Public Health Association and Tobacco Free Kansas Coalition.  I have volunteered for the Salina Area United Way since 2007 and now serve on their board.  Serving in these roles has helped me develop as a leader and has increased my network of colleagues to reach out to when implementing initiatives at the local level. As wellness professionals we can make our biggest impact by helping others see their role as wellness champions and addressing health equity in all of our work.

4. One of the goals of Live Well Saline County is to inspire and be a model for other communities.  Most conferences that you go to provide great information, but often you don't leave with next steps.  We will be hosting a state-wide Coalition Development Workshop where we will be encouraging teams of at least 4-6 per community to attend so that they will leave with a plan going forward. 

Something new we are trying with our Saline County Tobacco Use Prevention Coalition is to invite key sectors to a monthly meeting.  For example earlier this year we invited all pharmacies in town to a meeting on how we can partner to address tobacco in our community.  By listening to them we identified several simple, but effective strategies such as pharmacies providing information on the free Kansas Tobacco Quitline to all patients who purchase smoking cessation medications.  

5.  The biggest threat to the health promotion industry is that we will continue to blame individuals for making unhealthy lifestyle choices rather than being willing to look at barriers in the community that make it difficult for them.  Our biggest opportunity is to learn from other disciplines such as psychology and leadership so that we become better at helping people internalize the benefits of wellness rather than trying to incentivize or punish them into making healthy choices.

During the next five years I am going to focus on helping all community members and organizations see their role as a wellness champion because I know that we can’t do it alone.  It will only be as we work together that we can create communities where the healthy choice becomes the easy choice.  It may seem like a daunting task, but our youth and our communities deserve it!

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Daniel C.
As a health promotion professional there are three things that motivate me: I love wellness, I live wellness, and I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to be healthy and feel good. I serve on the Chronic Disease Alliance of Kansas Advisory Board and on the board for the Kansas Public Health Association, Tobacco Free Kansas Coalition, and Salina Area United Way. I obtained a bachelors in Biology from Pittsburg State University and competed in Track and Field and Cross Country and obtained a Master of Science degree in Health Promotion & Wellness Management from Missouri State University. I completed the Kansas Health Foundation Fellows VIII leadership program. View Daniel C.'s Profile.
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