I had one such idea several months ago when I was running on the treadmill and reading the book Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Dan and Chip Heath.
They book includes an example of change in West Virginia related to public health. West Virginia is generally considered one of the unhealthiest states in the nation (and also one of the poorest…). Health officials wanted to do something about this. But health is confusing. There are so many messages out there about what to eat, what not to eat, and everything in between. In this example, the health officials decided to encourage one simple change for health: switching from full-fat milk to low-fat milk. And they created a simple, yet effective, marketing campaign to go along with it – comparing the amount of saturated fat in whole milk and bacon.
As a member of the wellness team in our school district, I was intrigued. Public school may be one of the hardest places in the world to affect change. There’s no money and schools are subject to countless policies and regulations.
Part of the wellness team’s strategy is parent education. If parents adopt a healthy lifestyle, there will be more opportunity to affect change at school.
The wheels of my brain churned and churned…
What if we encouraged families to make one small change for wellness each month and added in some incentives for doing so? What would that look like? How would we reach people? Would people participate?
It’s not like I had a lot of spare time to implement this idea. It was big. It involved a website and marketing, getting sponsors and coordinating with the schools.
But the idea would not go away. I came up with ideas for healthy changes as I lay in bed trying to sleep. I talked to people about it. I looked at domain names and WordPress themes.
And finally I did it. With input from my wonderful co-conspirators on the wellness team, I created the Change of the Month website. I secured our first sponsor. We launch on September 1. And we already have 40 families signed up!
The success of the program remains to be seen, but for me personally, I’m glad I allowed this idea to come to life.