APRIL 19, 2021 — Over the past 10 years, the state’s Play Every Day campaign has been sharing health messages with thousands of Alaska families. Parents have seen posters about daily physical activity at their children’s schools and child care centers. They’ve flipped through guides about choosing healthy drinks at dentists’ offices. They’ve seen short videos while waiting at doctors’ offices and using social media.
Families living thousands of miles from Alaska are now seeing these messages, too. Other states and countries have asked to share them, and Play Every Day staff have made it even easier to do so. The campaign’s most recent videos, several posters and educational handouts are now added to the State and Community Health Media Center, managed through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This national library makes health-focused video, radio, print, social media and online messages available at no or low cost. The additions include this short video about the large amount of sugar hiding in fruit drinks, another short video about parents as role models choosing healthy drinks, this handout and posters.
“Our Physical Activity and Nutrition Program in Alaska is committed to running a public education campaign that supports all of the work we do to help Alaska children grow up at a healthy weight,” said Ann Potempa, communications director for the campaign. “We make sure we’re listening to Alaska families as we create our materials. We strive to reach these families wherever they are — in cities to very small villages — and on whatever forms of communication they use. We want to share these messages with other health departments that are striving to help families in their communities, but may not have enough resources or staff to do it. The CDC Health Media Center provides a great way to share our work with as many people as possible.”
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services joins other state and local health departments, nonprofit organizations and federal agencies to create all the materials included in the media center. The center’s materials focus on promoting physical activity, nutrition, emotional wellness and more. They also emphasize the importance of preventing ongoing chronic diseases that can last a lifetime, such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Sharing materials helps more families receive messages to improve health
CDC’s State and Community Health Media Center makes finding, choosing and using materials easy and cost-effective. Interested organizations can search by topic, name of health department that created the materials, type of message (video or print, for example), and more.
The media center prioritizes materials that have been tested with audiences. Play Every Day’s most recent materials that are included in the library focus on choosing healthy drinks instead of sugary drinks. Play Every Day tested these messages with Alaska parents of young children before producing and sharing them. Campaign staff created messages that parents considered the most meaningful and motivating. During a three-year period of consistently sharing Play Every Day messages, a series of surveys completed by thousands of Alaska parents showed a significant decrease in families serving sugary drinks during the past week and in increase in serving water.
Reaching families across the world
Play Every Day’s success in reaching Alaska families to improve health behaviors attracted the attention of global public health organization Vital Strategies. The organization’s partners in Jamaica and Barbados asked Play Every Day staff for permission to re-create the campaign’s short public service announcement (PSA) linking sugary drinks to tooth decay. The Heart Foundation of Jamaica tested the Play Every Day campaign’s “Tooth Decay” PSA with the Jamaica audience. The PSA tested well, reinforcing the messaging that sugar adds up and leads to serious health consequences.
“Decades of industry marketing and promotions have enticed consumers to drink sodas and similar sugary beverages. Our campaigns face a significant challenge — changing these long-established positive attitudes towards sugary drinks,” said Sandra Mullin, senior vice president of policy, advocacy and communication at Vital Strategies. “The Play Every Day campaign tells a powerful story presenting a simple and clear message that resonated with our audience.”
The Heart Foundation of Jamaica selected and adapted Play Every Day’s “Tooth Decay” concept for its “Are Our Children Drinking Themselves Sick?” campaign, which launched in fall 2018. In 2019, the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Barbados adapted the Play Every Day PSA for the launch of its “Switch It Up” campaign. The post-campaign evaluation conducted in Jamaica in early 2019 revealed that more than 6 out of 10 Jamaica respondents remembered the PSA. Nine out of 10 (96%) respondents supported public education campaigns like these.
Find free Play Every Day materials online
You can find all of Play Every Day’s messages available at no cost on its website. Visit this webpage to find current and past messages focused on cutting back on sugary drinks and choosing water or milk instead. Visit this webpage for current and past messages focused on getting daily physical activity and participating in the Healthy Futures Challenge, which is a free, school-based physical activity challenge for elementary-age children in Alaska. Find Play Every Day’s materials on the CDC State and Community Health Media Center online.