The leaves are falling, the air feels cooler (this blogger lives in Texas, so that means it’s dipped into the 80s, which is still pretty sweet relief) and the grocery stores are filled with orange pumpkins and bite-sized candy bars. It all points to one much-anticipated event: The APHA 143rd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition!
For those of you ready to answer HALLOWEEN!, I look forward to your public health-themed costumes because this year’s meeting actually begins on Oct. 31 at the McCormick Place convention center in the great metropolis of Chicago, Illinois. This year’s theme is “Health in All Policies,” which means many of the meeting’s thousands of scientific presentations will focus on the health impacts of decisions made across sectors, both public and private. But, as always, the Annual Meeting offers something for everyone — and that says a lot considering the meeting is poised to welcome about 13,000 attendees. (For those of you who are Annual Meeting newbies, this is no exaggeration. When APHA announces that public health is coming to town, we mean it.)
First, let’s talk about the big events. The keynote speaker at this year’s Opening General Session, which officially kicks off the meeting on Sunday, Nov. 1, is Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and a passionate education advocate who’s known for his work to increase minority representation in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. (Immediately following the Sunday opening, APHA Press will host a book signing with Hrabowski, author of “Holding Fast to Dreams: Empowering Youth from the Civil Rights Crusade to STEM Achievement,” at 2:30 p.m. inside the Public Health Expo.) Of course, no opening session kick-off is complete without some words from the nation’s public health leaders — this year, it’s U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.
The Monday General Session on Nov. 2 at 4:30 p.m. will focus on the National Prevention Strategy and will feature experts discussing the role of the strategy in improving the nation’s Health. The Closing General Session on Nov. 4 at 2:30 p.m. will focus on “Building Health and Just Communities” and will welcome Karen DeSalvo, acting assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as well as top public health officials from Chicago, Baltimore and St. Louis County. In between the general sessions, attendees can choose from hundreds of scientific sessions, attend business meetings, networking events or social hours, or browse the hundreds of booths at the Public Health Expo.
Wait, wait — I’m not done yet. On Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, APHA Learning Institutes offer folks a chance to earn additional continuing education credits. From Friday, Oct. 30, through Sunday, Nov. 1, APHA’s third Public Health Codeathon will bring together public health practitioners and programmers to brainstorm and develop new health-related mobile apps. On Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 2 and 3, APHA’s Social Media Lab, which is organized in partnership with AIDS.gov, will offer one-on-one training with social media experts. On Tuesday, Nov. 3, APHA’s Public Health Awards Ceremony honors some of the best and brightest in the field. And APHA’s Global Public Health Film Festival will put the popcorn in public health with a number of sessions showcasing innovative films, documentaries, public service announcements, educational videos and much more.
Whew. Need an energy boost after all that? Then don’t forget to visit the brand new APHA Wellness Center, which will be located behind the Mix and Mingle Lounge in McCormick Place West Central Concourse and will offer daily yoga sessions and mini exercise breaks. Oh, one more thing: Pack your dancing shoes. Because on Sunday, Nov. 1, at 5:30 p.m. outside the Public Health Expo hall, APHA invites you all to join our #GimmeFive dance in honor of the fifth anniversary of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Campaign. Keep an eye out on our website for a dance tutorial. We’ll also be teaching the steps onsite before we get started.
Alright, faithful blog readers. This post marks the official kick-off of this year’s APHA Annual Meeting Blog. We’ll be posting every week until the Annual Meeting begins on Oct. 31, at which point we’ll kick into high gear. So please check back in for more insider tips and don’t forget to subscribe for automatic email updates.
See y’all in three weeks!
Above, check out a 2013 TED Talk with Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and this year's Opening General Session keynote speaker.