Against a backdrop of majestic mountains and big blue skies, Help Me Grow leaders from all 18 HMG affiliate states gathered in Provo, Utah, in early April with the HMG National team for three days of networking, learning, and planning — and inspiration.
The 2013 National Forum kicked off on Wednesday, April 10, with a  welcome dinner and team introductions. The next day, Thursday, April 11, participants met over breakfast and — appropriately for professionals working on behalf of children — colorful building blocks.
“For this activity,” says HMG Utah on its blog, “we played a little game of Jenga, stacking blocks and answering the questions taped to them.” Each table received questions related to different topics, including Family & Community Outreach, Physician Outreach, Collecting & Using Data, and Marketing & Social Media.
This sense of creativity and collaboration threaded throughout the Forum, as participants moved from small-group discussions to speaker presentations to networking receptions. One of many highlights was the keynote address delivered by Kerry Patterson, a dynamic speaker, prolific author, and renowned expert on creating and supporting organizational change.
Patterson’s address provided “concrete tools on how to maximize approaches to HMG implementation,” says one participant in a post-forum survey. His expertise “deepened my motivation to make change in my community.”
While participants judged the entire Forum as extremely valuable, other activities of special note included Affiliate State Regional Meetings, in which several states planned mutual site visits; an overview of the HMG Utah Data System; a presentation on HMG National’s recent policy brief about the efficacy of the HMG system; a talk by Utah First Lady Jeannette Herbert; and a visit to the HMG Utah call center.
“I LOVED seeing the provider outreach database [during the site visit],” reports a participant. “It was also helpful to see how their physical space is laid out — it made it much easier to picture the workflow and see how families experience their program.”
Barbara Leavitt, Executive Director of HMG Utah, helped close the Forum with a “Lessons Learned” overview and a question-and-answer session that many participants founds to be one of the most helpful, stimulating, and, in the words of one participant,  “wonderful” parts of the Forum.
“I really appreciated the dialogue and question/answer that was allowed [in this activity],” a participant says. “I was most engaged and interested to hear suggestions and ideas from other states.”
The HMG Utah team and HMG National worked tirelessly and with good cheer to give affiliate state leaders a useful, encouraging, and engaging Forum that will support the ongoing work in their home states.
“In addition to the great information provided by the speakers and our affiliate colleagues,” a participant says, “this Forum provides an environment for our own state team to focus on HMG, to explore ideas, to regroup and plan — so that we leave inspired and motivated to keep moving our work forward.
To learn more about the 2013 Help Me Grow National Forum, visit the HMG Utah blog.