When Doug Dalay decided to take an elective Professional Development course at San Diego State University, he never dreamed that it would lead to an opportunity to intern at the County and make a meaningful impact on the local community.
“The Professional Development course I took helped students develop our soft skills and get ready for our career once we graduated,” said Dalay. “We participated in a mock interview for one of the class projects and North County Regions Executive Director, Chuck Matthews, was one of the people I interviewed with which is how I found out about the internship,” said Dalay.
Dalay has been interning in the Public Health department over the past year, helping lead the development of the “Tools for Schools” toolkit, a resource to equip school districts and individual schools with tools and best practices to implement programs aimed at reducing childhood obesity.
When Dalay first started his internship and work on the “Tools for Schools” project, the vision for the project was in its infancy. But that didn’t phase Dalay – he was committed to the project from start to finish and making it a success.
“We did a lot of research to find out what schools and school districts were doing around school wellness,” said Dalay. “We interviewed a variety of stakeholders – school nurses, principals, local organizations, community members, and many more. We found out that the efforts going on were more segmented than we thought. Our whole idea is to take a unified approach to eliminating childhood obesity. The toolkit embodies Live Well San Diego – we’re here together (businesses, schools, etc.) to share resources. We can make a bigger impact in the community if we work together.”
Pam Smith, Senior Advisor, has been the leading force behind the “Tools for Schools” toolkit. Dalay remembers her describing the number of people he could help through his work on the project.
“Pam and I sat down and she told me about the impact I could have on hundreds of thousands of people in the San Diego community while working on this project. I realized that I could play a part in making a difference at the County level,” said Dalay. “When you invest in helping the younger generation, you are helping yourself. I want to help children develop life-long healthy habits. I want to stay in San Diego and see my community thrive.”
Working on the “Tools for Schools” project has helped Dalay see his future plans in a different light.
“When I got this position, I thought, ‘huh?’ I didn’t know I would like it this much,” said Dalay. “My colleagues always tell me that my face lights up when I talk about my work here at the County. It’s true. Working at the County is great – I get to work with so many different experts in different departments.”
With the upcoming release of the “Tools for Schools” toolkit in March, Dalay reflects on its importance as a resource to help reduce childhood obesity in San Diego County.
“Childhood obesity is a national issue and a big issue in San Diego – we mirror the national data. Through the toolkit, we want to provide the resources for school districts to use if they are serious about reducing childhood obesity,” said Dalay. “The toolkit’s content is practical, relevant and replicable. It’s showcasing what we are doing locally and I think that will resonate with the school districts. It shows that we can do this because other schools are doing it.”
Dalay is excited to see what the future holds as the community comes together to end childhood obesity in San Diego County.
“Every school district has their own flavor, but we should try and have one vision. No us and them mentality, but us as school leaders and communities coming together to do what’s best for our kids,” said Dalay. “The toolkit is a living document. We want schools and community members to contribute to it and let us know about initiatives, policies, tip, ideas and resources that pertain to childhood obesity”.