As Kaiser Permanente’s 2018 Rose Parade float, “Inspiring Healthy Communities,” made its way down Colorado Boulevard during the 129th Rose Parade on January 1, we all had reason to smile with pride. This year marks the 13th time Kaiser Permanente has participated in the parade and shared with national and international audiences our message that total health is the key to having a thriving life. This year’s float included riders from every KP region, with the MAS rider joining Southern California’s front and center to lead the way.
“The float’s theme of ‘Inspiring Health Communities’ is really about Kaiser Permanente’s shared social responsibility and commitment to making a lasting, positive impact on the health of the individuals in the communities in which we live, work and play,” said Bechara Choucair, Kaiser Permanente senior vice president and chief community health officer. “We help support many community initiatives and partners who share our common goals of improving community health, and through our participation in the Rose Parade we hope we can inspire others to become involved as well.”
The 55-foot long float was designed and built by Fiesta Parade Floats, and decorated over a five-day period. Volunteers delicately affixed hundreds of pounds of natural materials, including green roses, manzanita leaves, orange lentils, palm fronds and other organic supplies to make the community garden come to life. The float had 46 individual moving parts, including all of the sculpted flowers, fruits, and vegetables.
Riders on Kaiser Permanente’s float represented the continuum it takes to create healthy communities, and included Kaiser Permanente community partners and clinicians from across our regions vested in total community health. Among the riders was Linda Watson, an employee of DC Central Kitchen (DCCK), on hand to represent Mid-Atlantic States. Linda was selected to be on the float because she is an inspiration and a true ambassador for community health. Nearly 15 years ago, Linda was a single mother navigating the complex DC shelter system. She relied on DCCK for the free, healthy meals they provide to partner nonprofits and enrolled in the organization’s Culinary Job Training program.
She now serves as a production manager for DC Central Kitchen’s Healthy School Food program – a food service operation for 14 DC Public Schools. Linda says she loves leading her team in preparing healthy, made-from-scratch cooked meals for DC kids and the new apartment which her family often visits. She approaches her role with the Healthy School Food team the same way she handled her time in the Culinary Job Training program: with grace and grit. Her resolve changed her own life and now is helping to improve the lives of DC schoolchildren. Linda is a model of what’s possible for current students enrolled at DC Central Kitchen.
Kaiser Permanente funded DCCK’s expansion to its Nutrition Lab kitchen facility, which was essential to the organization’s school food service efforts, and its Healthy Corners venture to address food deserts in DC’s low-income Wards 7 and 8. Last year, this innovative program was recognized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation at its inaugural Healthy10 Awards.
For additional information about the 2018 Rose Parade and Kaiser Permanente’s mission of improving community health, visit https://share.kaiserpermanente.org/category/about-community-benefit/; Kaiser Permanente Thrive on Facebook, the Tournament of Roses website, and other social media networks using the hashtag #InspiringHealthyCommunities.