One of my favorite movies — okay, I admit, my all-time favorite movie — is The Wizard of Oz. As someone who’s never had a great deal of wanderlust and believes firmly that home is where the heart is, Dorothy’s words at the end are particularly touching to me:

“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire, I won’t go any further than my own backyard. Because, if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.”

I thought of that today, on my way back to the office after moderating a panel discussion at a community forum at the YMCA National Capital in D.C. The forum, “The United States of Diabetes,” showcased success in public-private community partnerships in tackling the nation’s diabetes epidemic.

I was so inspired and intrigued by the Y’s Diabetes Prevention Program as part of a national Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance, which brings together community cornerstones like the Y, health insurers, retail pharmacies, pharmaceutical companies, federal agencies and national nonprofit groups to increase awareness and education about diabetes, as well as increase treatment compliance for those with the disease.

It’s a truly exemplary program — one that I hope to profile in an upcoming issue of EBN — but what struck and saddened me most was that there was no employer represented in the program.

It occurred to me how myopic I’ve been — and perhaps you’ve been as well — in thinking that the only successful wellness initiatives were launched from within the workplace.

I thought that maybe we should ignore Dorothy, and go looking for our heart’s desire (lower health care costs, increased savings, better educated employees/patients who are more engaged in wellness and chronic condition management) beyond the backyard of the workplace.

What do you think? Have you reached out to community resources and leaders to assist you with your company wellness program? What were the results? Is community outreach vital to wellness success? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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