As we look back on the past ten years, Kiana Trabue’s WeTHRIVE! journey stands out. A lifelong resident of Woodlawn (one of WeTHRIVE!’s initial communities), Kiana joined the staff of Hamilton County Public Health (HCPH) as a health educator about one year after WeTHRIVE! began. She went on to work for the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati as executive director for community health and is currently the executive director of Gen-H for The Health Collaborative. Today, Kiana is a Woodlawn councilmember and serves on the village’s WeTHRIVE! team. We like to say she’s come “full circle.”
Tackling school nutrition with WeTHRIVE!
Kiana was part of the team that expanded WeTHRIVE! throughout the county under the Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) grant. One of her main tasks for CPPW was to help schools comply with Ohio Senate Bill 210 (SB210), which required districts to adopt policies establishing nutrition standards for competitive foods. Competitive foods are sold outside of the federal school lunch program in cafeterias, vending machines, and school stores. Before SB210, many of these foods and beverages were unhealthy – things like chips, cookies, and soda.
Kiana says there was a lot of pushback from schools. “The revenue that was generated from the vending machines oftentimes went to support some after school or extracurricular activities,” she said. “There was a lot of concern that if we changed the things that are being sold in the vending machines, students would not buy the healthier options and then we won’t have money to be able to continue the programs or afterschool activities.”
But school districts across the country had made these changes. “We explained that while they initially saw a decrease in revenue, they eventually ended up making more money by offering the healthy options,” Kiana said.
By July 2011, all 22 districts in Hamilton County had adopted competitive foods policies, providing healthier food choices at school for 105,000 students.
Lasting changes are personal
One of the benefits of living in a WeTHRIVE! community is experiencing the initiative’s impact personally. When Kiana’s children were old enough to attend Woodlawn Elementary School, the competitive foods policy gave them healthier choices and Walk to School Day was a regular event. Soon her son will be able to walk to school on new sidewalks funded by a Safe Routes to School grant that WeTHRIVE! supported. “It is so amazing to think that it all started with WeTHRIVE!,” Kiana said. “It’s lasting change that is continuing today and it’s so beneficial.”
Kiana also sees the impact of the tobacco-free policies adopted by Woodlawn and other WeTHRIVE! communities. “I’ve seen this a couple of times when I’ve been at the municipal building in Woodlawn – people want to light up and somebody will say ‘you see that sign over there? You can’t smoke here,’” she said. “Seeing the WeTHRIVE! signs all over is really cool because my daughter, although she was relatively young when I started that work, she knows about it and remembers WeTHRIVE! and says ‘mom, that’s what you did!’”
To Kiana, her WeTHRIVE! work at HCPH set her on the path to success. “I say all the time that the time that I spent on the WeTHRIVE! team, although it was short, it taught me so much,” she said. “… being so ingrained within the community was critical and really laid the foundation for my career going forward. The connections that I was able to make have helped me really get where I am today.”
Continuing to THRIVE!
We’re excited to have Kiana on the Woodlawn WeTHRIVE! team. “I definitely want to see some clear alignment between what the goals are for the WeTHRIVE! team and then what council and the mayor and the administration want to see for the future of our community,” she said. “When I think about our tagline – ‘Beautiful Woodlawn’ – I don’t just think about what you see when you’re driving through the neighborhood. Beautiful to me means healthy.
“In our public works department, our recreation department, the police and fire departments, I want to know what kinds of things we can be doing to lend our support to the WeTHRIVE! team and really make it a full community-wide effort,” Kiana said. “I want to make sure that we are thinking about health in everything that we do.”
This story is part of our THRIVING for 10 Years series.
Kiana R. Trabue, MPH worked as a health educator with Hamilton County Public Health from 2010-2012. She is now Executive Director of Gen-H for The Health Collaborative. At home, Kiana is a loving and devoted mother, daughter, sister, niece, cousin, and friend to many.