Community Leader: Dr. Dave Keely

York County, SC  (Aug. 2018) Through the years, Eat Smart Move More South Carolina (ESMMSC) has worked with exceptional individuals who understand local challenges facing their communities, and have the passion and the vision to create opportunities where people can make healthy choices where they live, work, learn, play and pray. ESMMSC is recognizing these individuals, who have been nominated by their peers and colleagues, to showcase their commitment to making the healthy choice, the easy choice.

Creating a culture of health in any community can be long and drawn out due to the many challenges that community coalitions face. It requires working together to improve health for everyone in the community, not just one group of people. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation says, “In a Culture of Health, Americans understand that we’re all in this together—no one is excluded. Everyone has access to the care they need, and all families have the opportunity to make healthier choices. In a Culture of Health, communities flourish, and individuals thrive.”

That’s what leaders in York County—like all other counties in South Carolina—are trying to do. Rock Hill family and public health physician Dr. Dave Keely is one of those leaders heavily involved in Eat Smart Move More York County (ESMMYC) and the healthy eating, active living movement. The unique thing about Dr. Keely is that he cares for more than just his patients. He cares about his community and creating a culture of health, and he isn’t afraid to speak up for positive change.

“Dr. Dave devotes himself to promoting evidence-based, “common-sense,” regional- and community-level policy, systems, and environmental change for a healthier America in the 21st Century,” says Liz Duda, ESMMYC chair. “He leads the ESMMYC Advocacy Committee and the ESMMYC 5-2-1-0 Committee. He’s also part of the ESMMSC Advocacy Committee, Tobacco-Free York County and Impact York County, and gives me guidance on my community efforts.”

The Healthy Together 5-2-1-0 initiative is an education program that Dr. Keely was instrumental in leading on the local level. It supports a culture of living through engagement, consistent messaging, collaboration, education, and policy change. As a result of Dr. Keely’s efforts, ESMMYC partnered with Atrium Health to roll out the Healthy Together 5-2-1-0 Program to five Rock Hill and seven Fort Mill elementary schools in the 2017-2018 school year, with plans to roll out the initiative to after-school programs and early childhood centers in 2018-2019. Atrium Health already offers the program at its pediatric healthcare sites.

Other initiatives that Dr. Keely is involved in include: healthy school fundraisers, open community use, walkability/bikeability through smart growth transportation planning, and Safe Routes to School, to name a few.

“I believe [ESMMSC] York County is ready for a major multi-year funding to be able to hire a full-time person to lead our policy, environment, and systems change efforts for healthy eating and active living, and to coordinate with the new population health initiative named “Impact York County,” says Dr. Keely. “Also, I am so pleased that now, finally, we have state-wide surveillance for school-age children’s BMI-for-age status and cardio-respiratory fitness status—this should really help all of us move the ball forward more quickly at the community level for healthy eating and active living!”

Thanks to leaders like Dr. Keely, who are willing to go the extra mile for their community to ensure a healthy future and a culture of health, York County and communities around the state have a fighting chance for healthy change and sustainability.