Public Health plays a strong role in creating communities that prevent youth tobacco initiation and help smokers who want to quit find success.  With effective policies, systems and environmental changes our communities can lower rates of youth and adult tobacco use.  While policy development is a core competency for public health practitioners, many professionals want to improve their capacity to influence change.

Recognizing this need, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) awarded the Center for Public Health Practice a grant to deliver training and technical assistance to the current State Tobacco Education & Prevention Partnership (STEPP) grantees.  This February, the first of a series of Shaping Policy for HealthTM trainings began.

Shaping Policy for Health™ is a competency-based training developed and delivered by Directors of Health Promotion and Education with funding from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.  While the complete Shaping Policy for Health™ curriculum includes workshops in five domains of policy development and implementation.  Grantees from all corners of the state such as Greeley, Colorado Springs, Pagosa Springs and Hugo attended Course One – Shaping Policy for HealthTMAssessing and Framing the Policy Problem.

Most often, public health problems lead to health disparities in many of the state’s communities.  In the first workshop, public health practitioners developed necessary skills for defining and articulating health problems in a concise, relevant and compelling way.  In order to develop interventions, public health professionals have to consider how problems are socially constructed and how economic or other determinants can be identified as the root causes. The first training also introduced systems thinking so participants could learn to establish boundaries around the scope of a problem and later identify a solution to pursue.

The training series will continue this spring.  The next course scheduled for STEPP grantees will be held in Salida, Colorado in April 2014.