DHPE’s Executive Director Susan Goekler presented the Mary Bobbitt-Cooke School Health Leadership Award to Margo Wootan in Washington DC on September 26.. The Mary Bobbitt-Cooke School Health Leadership Award recognizes a person from the field of public health who has championed an initiative that improves the health and well-being of members of school communities. This award honors long-time DHPE member, Mary Bobbitt-Cooke, MPH, who worked tirelessly to improve the public’s health both in her home state of North Carolina and nationally. Mary believed that community is where health improvement happens. It was her vision that created the School Employee Wellness (SEW) program which has provided resources and incentives to communities across the country to protect their schools’ greatest assets, their faculty and staff, though wellness programs. In 2007, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) awarded the first Lloyd J. Kolbe Award for Leadership in Coordinated School Health to DHPE for its work on SEW. Mary was the champion who made sure that this important idea was brought to fruition. The Mary Bobbitt-Cooke award will recognize other public health leaders who share Mary’s passion for schools as a venue for health promotion.
Dr. Margo Wootan is the director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). She co-founded and coordinates the activities of the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity (NANA) and the Food Marketing Workgroup. She has coordinated and led efforts to improve school foods and reduce junk-food marketing aimed at children. She was instrumental in getting a requirement for wellness policies included in the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act of 2004 and for enhancing standards for school foods in its reauthorization. The results of the recent School Health Programs and Practices Study (SHPPS) conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed significant changes since passage of the 2004 bill in food preparation methods used in school cafeterias and healthier options not only as part of school meals but also in vending machines, at parties, and as school fund raisers.
Dr. Wootan was unable to attend DHPE’s annual meeting in Minneapolis to accept her award during the awards ceremony. The presentation of this award to Dr. Wootan completes the presentation of awards to those unable to attend. DHPE’s Deputy Executive Director for Programs presented the Health Promotion and Education Advocacy Award to Dr. Paul Jarris the Executive Director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) during ASTHO’s annual meeting on September 17.