Since 1995, the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) has celebrated National Health Education Week (NHEW) during the third week of October. NHEW is focused on increasing national awareness on major public health issues and promoting a better understanding of the role of health education. This year’s theme is “Health Education as a Catalyst for Change.”
“Whether collaborating with community partners to conduct community needs assessments and develop community health improvement plans, educating new parents on the importance of a properly installed child passenger safety seats or working to address and prevent the spread of infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, our DHEC Health Educators are a critical part of our agency and the work we do,” said Suzanne Sanders, Community Health Services External Systems Manager. “They serve as catalysts for change within their communities every single day.”
About 30 employees serve on this team at DHEC.
Health education specialists offer knowledge, skills and training that complement health care providers, policy makers, educational experts, human resource personnel and many other professionals whose work impacts human health. Health education specialists promote and improve health literacy and equity through research, education and advocacy. Health equity and literacy are important determinants of health status.
“Health educators are key players in promoting DHEC’s mission to improve the quality of life for all South Carolinians by protecting and promoting the health of the public and environment,” Sanders said.
Regional Community Systems directors are planning activities and recognitions throughout the week in their respective regions.
By Lillie M. Hall, MPH, MHS, CHES Upstate Community System Director
This is National Health Education Week (NHEW), when we celebrate the work of health education specialists and their key role in promoting prevention, wellness and disease management.
Since 1995, NHEW — sponsored by the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) — has been celebrated during the third full week of October. The annual celebration focuses national attention on a major public health issue and enhances consumers’ understanding of the role of health education in promoting the public’s health. This year’s NHEW pays tribute to Partnerships to Build Community Health.
Celebrating health education specialists
We at DHEC honor the work of health education specialists and acknowledge and appreciate partnerships that help to build community health.
We are fortunate to have great health education specialists, better known as community system directors and their community teams, who work tirelessly at the individual, group, institutional, community and system levels to improve health knowledge, attitudes and skills in an effort to change or encourage behaviors that result in optimal health status.
DHEC’s community system directors — shown below from left to right — are Lillie M. Hall (Upstate), Suzette McClellan (Pee Dee), Suzanne Sanders (Midlands) and Felicia Veasey (Lowcountry).
Building partnerships is pivotal
DHEC cannot promote and protect the health of the public and the environment alone. That’s where our community system directors and their teams come in: They are charged with developing or enhancing and maintaining sustainable partnerships that help us comply with our mission.
It takes years to build trust and develop rapport in communities across the state. But when great collaborations exist, ongoing and meaningful work takes places to promote healthier eating, active living and the removal of risk factors for chronic and communicable disease. Please take a moment to visit the websites of a few of our great community partners across the state to learn of their positive contributions to the public’s health.