Obesity causes or exacerbates numerous chronic diseases and conditions that can lead to death, including diabetes and hypertension. In an effort to address the obesity epidemic in Arkansas, the governor-led Healthy Active Arkansas (HAA) initiative was launched to provide a 10-year framework with phased goals to increase the percentage of Arkansans who are at a healthy weight. As part of this initiative and support by funding from the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas, the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement convened five statewide learning network meetings in 2018 to engage, recruit, and activate a network of local champions to assist in meeting these goals. This study, featuring an innovative partnership between Mercy Hospital Fort Smith and the Future School of Fort Smith, is part of a series of case studies highlighting success stories from the HAA Statewide Learning Network.
While serving in her role as the Mercy Hospital Fort Smith community health education coordinator, Allison Montiel used her experience in education and healthcare to teach high school students the importance of fostering healthy habits early on. Using the HAA framework, Montiel created a curriculum that exposed the students to healthy activities and life skills, including yoga, meditation, shopping for healthy foods, and reading nutrition labels.