One of the most critical aspects in any field is practice.
Significant change—in policies, in the environments in which people make their decisions about health behaviors, and in those behaviors themselves—rarely occurs without pressure. Best practices in advocacy entail building relationships, connecting with people on an emotional as well as on an evidence-based level, and, often, encouraging people to step outside of their “comfort zone” to alter the relations of everyday power and practices to promote health.
The long-term strategies needed for change require short-term objectives. Initial activities often need to focus on issues that bring a community together or are of greater importance to that community. Subsequent work should focus on building capacity for advocacy, increasing the ability of individuals and organizations to address larger issues and achieve overall goals. Success in advocacy means not only achieving change in policy or the environment in which change occurs, but also achieving improvements in the processes by which people advocate and their skills in advocacy.
Essential functions of the Center’s practice realm include:
- Convening regular events related to advocacy
- Supporting professional development
- Coordinating an Advocacy Residency/Internship program
- Providing training in advocacy
- Documenting public health advocacy