The time to make a difference is now

Last year, in the heat of the summer, I found myself standing in Carroll, Iowa at a production shoot when I had one of those special moments that doesn’t occur often enough.

The shoot was for one of our clients, the NACDD (National Association of Chronic Disease Directors), a group that works with the CDC implementing programs that help prevent chronic diseases, and we were there to make a series of videos that would showcase a wonderful program called Inclusive Healthy Communities. Along the way we met with public health workers and local citizens impacted by these programs in four towns in Iowa and Montana. What we saw were people whose lives were profoundly changed by thoughtful civic planning and leaders who were committed to the idea of being inclusive.

In Sioux City we went to an innovative park that served as an all-access water park in the summer and a skating rink in the winter. Most notably the park was being used by people across the spectrum of abilities, together in the same place. Not ‘separate but equal’ but together in the same place. Everyone was playing and enjoying themselves in the same place at the same time. It was a model of inclusivity.

Inclusive splash pad - Sioux City, IA
Inclusive ice skating rink
Inclusive sledding tubes

We went to Butte, Montana and saw another terrific facility, this one with a playground, pool, and carousel. Finally in Helena, Montana, we met with a community task force who took us on a walking tour. Leading the tour was a legally blind man confined to a wheelchair but quick to point out the wheelchair charging station and the accommodations made throughout the city.

Inclusive all-abilities pool - Butte, MT
inclusive community swimming pool - Butte MT

So what happened in Iowa and Montana? I’ll tell you. I’ve been working in advertising for 35 years. I’ve helped sell everything from fried chicken to cellphones, the Marines to the Arts. But standing there in the heartland, I realized that I could do more to help people think about how they can treat their neighbors better. When I returned home, I resolved that I would do more to use my expertise to make a greater impact.

And so at Rocket Camp, we've made a commitment to do more:

  • We’ve stayed involved with the NACDD on a variety of initiatives.

  • We began working with the ProVention Health Foundation, a group similarly interested in making this a healthier world, primarily through prevention. In fact, last November we convened the first ProVention Health Summit with leaders from the ProVention Health Foundation and the University of Florida’s STEM Translational Communication Center.

  • In January we sponsored the NACDD’s annual Showcase, an exposition designed to share many of the wonderful public health programs they are spearheading. At the Showcase we heard from leaders in the public health world. Their message: “This is public health’s moment”. It was interesting. It was important. And it got my attention.

  • And earlier this month we kicked-off a new partnership; this one with a non-profit called Lives in the Balance. Their focus: kids and their mental health and how we, as a society, are treating them.

The time for us to make a difference is now. We are stepping up and being more intentional about what we do and the type of business we pursue. We are going to seek out opportunities where we can help people live better lives. It began with a moment in the middle of Iowa. I believe its impact will last much longer.