Live Well Omaha Kids (LWOK) is a coalition working collaboratively to ensure that every child has the opportunity to live a healthy life. Our efforts are successful because of the time, expertise, and resources that partners and community members bring to the table.

Today we are featuring a member of the LWOK Steering Committee – Holly Dingman, Manager of the Center for the Child & Community at the Children’s Hospital & Medical Center. Holly assisted the coalition in our initial evaluation planning and has been active in public health for 14 years.

Here’s what Holly had to share with us:

What inspired you to work in the field of health?

My mom inspired me through her struggle with terminal breast cancer 17 years ago. I experienced firsthand how challenging it was to coordinate the care for my mom and how out of balance medicine was on treatment vs. prevention.

While in my Dietetic Internship at UNL, I attended my first community coalition meeting around the formation of the Nebraska Cancer Coalition. It was amazing to me that a group of people, representing many different organizations and sectors, were in the same room with the same intention…they were all unsettled by the high cancer rates in Nebraska and collectively wanted to do something about it – putting prevention at the forefront of the discussion. It was in that meeting that I knew public health was the direction I wanted to go. It was the perfect time to enter the field as the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention were just starting to fund states to conduct coordinated primary prevention efforts.

I was on a team at the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) to secure Nebraska’s first CDC grant from the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Prevention in 2008.  Through this work with partners across the state, I learned so much about the value of trusted collaborations and the power of working together on a shared goal. Partners and the children and families we serve are those that continue to inspire me every day.

Tell us about your current role at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center.

I landed my dream job! My role at Children’s is to build into our healthcare system a coordinated, strategic approach to community outreach and population health. Leaders at Children’s, specifically located at our Center for the Child & Community in Lincoln at Nebraska Innovation Campus, serve as a reminder that our work is regional/statewide and also collaborative. Over half of the children seen at Children’s come from outside of the Metro area. I am really blessed to have an amazing team to work with to build the Center. Children’s is truly driven by their mission to improve the life of every child – through dedication to exceptional clinical care, research, education and advocacy.

Why are you involved in the LWOK coalition? How does collaboration around child healthy weight benefit our community?

I have partnered with LWOK since I started in public health with DHHS. LWOK has always been at the forefront of best-practice and driving community change. Always on-point with messaging and advocacy. Collaboration is imperative in the field of public health to achieve outcomes we need for our children, families, and community.

When you’re not working, what kind of activities do you participate in to stay active and feeling energized?

My hobby is teaching pre-dawn spinning classes at the YMCA. I have been a group fitness instructor for 20 years now!

I have three children (ages 11, 8 and 4) who keep me busy too, taking them to clogging practice, piano, and meeting their other daily needs. My husband is a guitar instructor so you can imagine that our house is never quiet. Our border collie, Jenny, makes sure of that, too.

Learn more about what the Children’s Hospital & Medical Center is doing to prevent childhood obesity here.