Melissa Atkins, District Epidemiology Program Director from the NW GA Public Health District, has won the 2013 Sellers-McCroan award for her public health advocacy work promoting primary prevention through hand-washing, vaccination and appropriate use of antibiotics.
The program brochure describes Atkins as a quiet, but diligent worker. “Sometimes, it is the quiet ones that often go unnoticed but definitely not unappreciated,” the brochure states. “Melissa Atkins, Epidemiologist, is most deserving of the 2013 Sellers-McCroan award.”
The award was presented by Dr. Kathryn Martin, Chair of the Sellers-McCroan Selection Committee. Atkins was joined at the stage by Northwest Georgia District Health Director Dr. Wade Sellers, Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, Commissioner of the GA Department of Public Health, and Past-President of GPHA Dr. W. Douglas Skelton.
Dr. Fitzgerald gave the lecture during the Sellers-McCroan luncheon, and urged all the attendees to remember the “Power of One.” She reflected on the benefits of having a single, unified GA Department of Public Health, as well as the power of each individual to work within that Department to make a collective difference. “Now that we are one department, let’s have one goal,” Dr. Fitzgerald said. “That goal for this year is to fight obesity in Georgia.”
Georgia is 2nd in the nation for childhood obesity, and a recent study by the SHAPE organization determined that 43% of children in Georgia are overweight or obese. Dr. Fitzgerald asked luncheon attendees to spread the message that we have habits to make, habits to break and habits to take. She challenged the audience to make a habit of physical activity at least 30 minutes each day, to break the habit of too much screen time, and to “take 5,” meaning five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.