I have been following the Horizon Foundation's HoCo Unsweetened initiative since its inception. As a parent and teacher, I see daily evidence of how sugary drinks affect children and adults. I have serious reservations about high fructose corn syrup, a staple in these highly advertised beverages. I applaud the Horizon Foundation's willingness to stand up to "Big Soda" and champion our kids.

All summer long, I have been following HoCo Unsweetened through social media as they dispatched road teams to many outdoor venues to educate parents and children about better beverages. Their recent video, "Burp Better," was a delightful and pointed culmination of that work. Not a cute publicity stunt, it was an engaging way to highlight the countless hours of public education that have already taken place in our own community and nearby.

One of the beauties of public health initiatives is that something quite small can have huge benefits. Oral rehydration salts have saved countless lives in counteracting the devastating effects of diarrheal diseases. More recently, fortified peanut butter packets stop the progressive decline of starvation. Small steps, but significantly beneficial. Public health professionals look at many problems, many needs. The challenge is to pick and commit to something that can be accomplished. This is precisely what the Horizon Foundation has done.

It is not the role of public health to be provincial. Helping the residents of Howard County may very well require outreach outside of its boundaries. In the same way, our award-winning HoCo Library system plans programs to meet specific needs of county residents while reaching out to participate, learn and share with others across the nation. Reaching out and connecting is an excellent investment for our county's citizens.

When it comes to healthy choices, HoCo Unsweetened is helping us broaden our horizons.

Julia McCready

Columbia