Joy Rockenbach goes above and beyond in obesity prevention. She saw the need for a community-based initiative on obesity in Arkansas and particularly, the need for local communities to take action. In 2007, Joy spearheaded a gathering of state leaders to discuss the obesity epidemic and out of this the ArCOP (Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention) was formed. This all-volunteer statewide committee has many organizations and agencies as members. Six workgroups are very active in the areas of Access to Healthy Foods, Built Environment, Early Childhood & Schools, Health Care, Social Marketing and Worksite Wellness.
Growing Healthy Communities (GHC) is a project developed in 2009 to build capacity within local communities to reduce obesity. Communities apply to be selected to participate in a training event, with required attendance by their Mayor and decision leaders. Each community is assisted in creating a plan to address specific areas of need for their community and receives funding to help them implement their plans.
Ms. Rockenbach had the vision for GHC and actively sought out funds for it, applying for grants for support from foundations and state agencies. She then developed the training and began GHC with five cities in Arkansas in 2010. In 2011, five more locales were funded for GHC projects and five others did not receive funding but did receive technical support from ArCOP. Joy inspires me with her respect for all people, her desire to be a change agent, and her dedication to sustainable and scientific principles.