Public Health Success Stories   

One important way to tell people about things that work is to tell a story of success.  Stories engage people. Since the beginning of time stories have helped people learn from one another.  Success stories share what works across groups and communities and help build replications of that original successful model.  Because health is about individuals and families and communities our success stories serve to spread the word about what works.

Click here to share your storyPHiT identified four goals in January 2013 – one to create a process for development and collection of success stories that illustrate the effectiveness of ToP Methods used in conjunction with community planning models. 

Success stories shared by Linda Alton:    

Use of TOP Facilitation Skills by Adolescent Health Systems Building State Teams

In June 2013, Deb Burnight and Linda Alton trained 17 health consultants from the Association of Maternal Child Health Programs (AMCHP) in Focused Conversation and Consensus Workshop.     This training was provided by a partnership of AMCHP and State Adolescent Health Resource Center  (SAHRC) in an initiative to build capacity for the collective impact of states to implement comprehensive adolescent health systems.   ToP approaches are emerging as a crucial tool in this initiative!

The sessions were well received and participants started putting their new-found ToP skills to good use with some remarkable results.  Recently received word of some of their accomplishments is well worth sharing…

The following examples were compiled from various correspondence with state teams (consisting of the State Adolescent Health Coordinator in the Department of Health, and their teammates in attendance at the June 2013 AMCHP/SAHRC adolescent health systems building training).

Florida Adolescent Health Coordinator, Shay Chapman, and Department of Health teammate, Tiffane Robertson, have been using the Focused Conversation method in various settings to direct conversations, and in August used the Focused Conversation method at an annual meeting of 25 county level grantees. Feedback about the Focused Conversation method:  

It was a helpful to have a way to direct the conversation, and we got positive feedback from participants.

Colorado Adolescent Health Coordinator, Audra Bishop, and teammate Nkem Nwankwo, Youth Advisor to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, used the Focused Conversation and Consensus Workshop methods with a cross-state group of 80 representatives from state agencies, medical health and public health.  The audience was composed of about 40 diverse (race, ethnicity, age, abilities) youth and young adults and 40 youth-serving professionals. Feedback about the methods:

The audience loved the activity. We used a sticky wall to put up several developmental occurrences, and they arranged and rearranged them as they saw fit. This drove a great conversation about understanding and communication between youth and youth-serving professionals. It went off without a hitch.

I loved having the great conversations between the youth and the professionals. The space felt safe and I do feel that the youth felt so too. They were open and honest about their experiences in the discussions.

New Jersey teammate from the Department of Education, Shondelle Williams, used the Consensus Workshop twice in July with her staff and with a cross-state agency group to build consensus on how to support students and staff in schools in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.  Feedback from both experiences:

I am excited to report that I conducted my first consensus workshop with my staff and it was phenomenal.  Everyone loved the process and were truly amazed.  I can’t believe I am doing this but I am and it’s working.   It was amazing to see the energy in the room and the full participation of both my introverts and extroverts.  I was really encouraged, thank you so much for providing this valuable tool to us. 

Puerto Rico Adolescent Health Coordinator, Gloria Montalvo, and her Department of Health teammate, Darem L. Dávila López,  used the Consensus Workshop method twice in August with groups of health department staff to build consensus around adolescent health programs and issues.  PR AHC feedback regarding the Consensus Workshop methods:

We have worked hard writing and organizing the [Consensus Workshop] questions and rehearsing. It is a wonderful feeling of enthusiasm and butterflies in the stomach… This way of working out meaningful conversations and consensus is something young people need to experience and need to know how to do it. How many misunderstandings and frustrations can be avoided by working in this way!

Ohio Adolescent Health Coordinator, Laura Rooney, and her state systems building teammate, Michelle Dritz from Wright Patterson Medical Center, used the Consensus Workshop method in July to guide a statewide adolescent health advisory group (the Ohio Adolescent Health Partnership) to consensus on a state level strategic plan for adolescent health.  Feedback regarding the Consensus Workshop method and skills:

We were pressed for time in accomplishing our task because the process was part of a larger agenda.  In the end, I was truly amazed at the participant’s responses in comparison to our traditional brainstorming and prioritizing discussions from the past.  The energy and excitement for the upcoming work was truly evident.  The next Monday several staff members made a specific point of commenting on the productivity of the meeting. 

Minnesota Adolescent Health Coordinator, Sara Hollie, used the Focused Conversation method in August with a collaborative group of internal Department of Health programs addressing adolescent health.  Feedback about the Focused Conversation method:

The method was very successful in defining our group purpose.

From Rena Large, M.Ed., CHES, of the State Adolescent Health Resource Center at the Konopka Institute for Best Practices in Adolescent Health at the University of Minnesota:

Definitely one of the most useful training/skill sets we've provided for state adolescent health coordinators!