“If what our mothers told us is true, that we’d be known by the company we keep, then our mothers would be very happy today,” said Mary Lou Goeke, executive director of the United Way of Santa Cruz, as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) presented her and her partnership team an RWJF Roadmaps to Health Prize —one of six awarded for the first time yesterday. Awards were given to teams made up of leaders in many sectors who were recognized for innovations that are improving the health and lives of the people in their communities.

“These prize winners represent leadership at its finest—trailblazers creating a culture of health,” said Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, RWJF President and CEO.

New videosshot on location highlight specific innovations in each community including:

  • A community health educator hired by the Sault Tribe in Manistique, Mich., who became a health leader for the whole community
  • A youth-led city-wide ban on tobacco sales in pharmacies in Fall River, Mass.
  • An initiative to make New Orleans, La., one of the fittest cities in America by 2018, just twelve years after Hurricane Katrina devastated that city
  • Culturally diverse healthy meals at schools in Cambridge, Mass., critical in a community with 65 languages
  • A youth advocacy group in Santa Cruz County, Calif., who realized there were no healthy food options near their school and spurred the approval of an ordinance that requires new restaurants and transportation stations to offer and highlight healthy options
  • The Northside Achievement Zone in Minneapolis, Minn., where families move through a cradle to career pipeline so that high-risk youth graduate from high school ready for college

Read the rest of this entry and find out more about the winners on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s New Public Health Blog.