10-Year Anniversary Spotlight: Ava Dean

Since its creation in 2007, Eat Smart Move More South Carolina has been a convener of local and state partners with common goals to reduce obesity in the Palmetto State. The founding partners recognized that collaboration is key to having a sustainable impact in communities. Ava Dean was one of those founding partners at Palmetto Health Richland who saw the need to bring healthy eating and active living together under one roof.

Dean served on the SC Coalition for Obesity Prevention with the Healthy Richland program, which also focused on active living. She played a pivotal role in establishing ESMMSC’s name, mission, vision,  and bylaws. Today, she’s the SC Program Manager at the National Kidney Foundation and continues to serve ESMMSC and her community.

This year we celebrate ESMMSC’s 10th Anniversary. What thoughts and emotions come to mind when you think about that?
As we celebrate 10 years, I smile.  The meetings, retreats, calls, and conferences were not in vain. People’s lives have changed due to the efforts of this organization. There’s growth!

What were your visions during your service?
My visions were similar to the group. I believe that’s why we moved so well together. We wanted communities to eat healthy, to be physically active, and, most importantly, to be healthy. We wanted to reach them in every aspect of their lives. 

What do you see as ESMMSC’s biggest accomplishments since 2007?
Collaborations and Community Establishments. This is a STATE effort, not one specific area. We learn from each other. 

Where would you like to see ESMMSC in 10 years?
In 10 years, I’d like to see more collaborations and seminars offered to the community. 

Do you have additional thoughts that you would like to share?
I’ve had the opportunity to bring a different perspective to this process in so many ways. I’m obese but live a very active life. I’ve learned never to assume because there’s ALWAYS more to the story. There needs to stop being silos. We have the same passion and goals. We want to see South Carolinians eat healthy, be more active, and living a healthier lifestyle in EVERY aspect of their lives.

Founded in 2007, ESMMSC is one of the first non-profit organizations of its kind in South Carolina, focusing on both healthy eating and active living. Its roots date back to 1999 when the South Carolina Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity formed and received nonprofit status in 2000. After changing its name to ESMMSC in 2007, the organization merged with the SC Coalition for Obesity Prevention.