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Becker part of child obesity project

9:55 am August 8th, 2013

State Sen. Randi Becker wants to help people "make good choices and overcome obesity before it becomes a health issue.”

State Sen. Randi Becker wants to help people “make good choices and overcome obesity before it becomes a health issue.”

A state senator from the Eatonville area said she is looking forward to participating in the Excellence in State Public Health Law Program, a group brought together by the non-profit Aspen Institute to help advance public-health goals.
Sen. Randi Becker is part of Washington’s bipartisan delegation that will join seven other states in the nationwide group. Each state is charged with researching a different area of public policy; Washington will focus on reducing rates of childhood obesity by training new mothers in successful breastfeeding techniques. 
The group will be led by a nine-person national advisory committee. Among the advisory committee members is former Washington governor Christine Gregoire. 
“This is a special group, and it’s an honor to have been asked to participate,” said Becker, a Republican who was re-elected last year from the Second District. “Because of my personal experience with fighting obesity for most of my life, I am particularly passionate about this subject. In my mind, the solution to obesity isn’t government mandates. What we need is to educate people so they’re in a position to make good choices and overcome obesity before it becomes a health issue.”  
A new initiative of the Aspen Institute’s Justice and Society Program will bring together teams of policy makers across governmental agencies in eight states for a year-long series of retreats and training to deepen their capacity to work together to address public health issues.
The states selected to participate in the Excellence in State Public Health Law Program include Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Louisiana, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington. For each state, the State Health Officer or high-level designee will lead a team of health leaders from both houses of the state legislature, the Governor’s staff, and high-level officials from other agencies critical to addressing a health issue that the state identified as a priority.
The one-year program, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, represents the first time that the Aspen Institute has partnered with State Health Officials. Upon completion of the program, participants will be honored as Fellows at a closing event in June 2014.
The one-year ESPHL program will consist of up to eight teams of eight members each. Over the course of the year, each team will focus on exploring, identifying, and evaluating how law and policy can advance one of their respective state’s health priorities.
The goal of the ESPHL program is to provide education and other resources that will enable policymakers and agencies to more effectively address public health issues and to become leaders in creating healthier states.  
Officials said the program will strengthen public health law collaborations among state officials and state-level policy-makers, and will increase these leaders’ effectiveness on public health issues in their respective states, including working across party lines and government agencies and branches.

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