The Just Move It initiative (JMI) originated on the Navajo Nation in 1993 as a partnership between the Indian Health Service and local Navajo communities. In 2005, JMI expanded to include American Indian and Alaskan Native communities across the United States to help showcase the many local promising practices happening in the promotion of physical activity. By making connections through a web based networking platform developed by the Healthy Native Communities Partnership, Inc. (HNCP), the spirit and impact of JMI is energized by individuals and community partners who access and share information that is useful in strengthening physical activity initiatives that work toward improving the health status of Indigenous Peoples. Today, JMI brings together the more than 370 Indigenous Communities in the United States who share what is working to help keep people moving. HNCP, the National Congress of American Indians, the National Indian Health Board, the Indian Health Service are all partners in promoting JMI.
Success of JMI was noticed in Canada, and dialogue was initiated with a common goal of expanding the reach of JMI to benefit First Nations and Inuit communities. A partnership agreement between HNCP, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) has been finalized to make JMI available to Aboriginal populations in Canada. Leadership of the JMI believe international collaboration will strengthen connections among Indigenous brothers & sisters and provide communities and programs with creative ideas to address health, wellness and other concerns through physical activity promotion at the local, regional, and national levels.
Statistics show a link between physical activity, healthy lifestyles and chronic disease prevention and management. Recognizing that chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, are affecting Indigenous peoples at staggering rates, JMI seeks to encourage physical activity as part of an individual and community lifestyle, and as an important element of wellness that can be utilized to help decrease rates of chronic diseases.
The cultural diversity among JMI partners who use the networking platform allows the sharing of multiple approaches to physical activity initiatives and provides a unique space to showcase traditional activities and practices that contribute to personal and community health and wellness. JMI builds and enhances positive relationships to inspire individuals and communities to embrace a natural reconnection between peoples by sharing success stories and positive role models in the community.
JMI is already making a difference. There is a growing database of participants and communities including “early adopters” in Canada. Empowerment is achieved from inclusiveness and everyone is encouraged to become a partner, regardless of nation or group.