Inspiring Community Health Where We Learn, Work, Play and Live


Inspiring Community Health Where We Learn, Work, Play and Live

23, October 2013 3:46 PM

When it comes to health care reform, it might seem like we have little control over the outcomes. Debates about health care quality, access and cost are all around us. All of this uncertainty might be overshadowing the real opportunity before us to really achieve improvements in people’s health. It’s time we seize this opportunity! But accomplishing this will take shared vision, leadership and collective impact. So, where can we start?

I’m not an expert in overhauling the health care system, but I do know that a part of the solution includes fostering healthier children, adults and families. If we can empower individuals to LIVE healthier, then they can actually BE healthier. Just imagine what our health care system would be like if we only relied on it for what it was originally intended; helping us maintain optimal health and treating us in times of acute illness and injury. Our health care system has the potential to do this job really well. So, who will do the job of empowering individuals to be healthy every day? The answer resides all around us, in the places we learn, work, play and live. Community health is an essential part of the solution.

How can we foster community health? Let’s start by transforming the environments around us to be conducive to making the healthy choice the easy choice. This is already happening in schools as many have taken a lead in implementing school wellness policies. In companies both large and small, workplace wellness programs are emerging and leading to increases in employee productivity and decreases in health care costs. Community based organizations, places of worship, recreation centers and many more are stepping forward to help promote healthy habits. But is that enough?

Health is multi-faceted, so our approach to improving health should be as well. Our communities need access to health care, availability of healthy food, parks and recreation, safe routes to school and opportunities for engaging in physical activity. But changing our environment won’t be successful if we don’t simultaneously inspire others to embrace health within themselves. When health becomes an intrinsic motivation it results in healthy choices, which then lead to long-term healthy habits. As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I believe that the foundation to optimal health is through nutritious eating patterns and physical activity. When individuals know how and what to eat to be healthy, they have a basic foundation for health. Nutrition education programs build this foundation and therefore are an integral part of creating community health.

Working together, we can make health a reality where we learn, work, play and live.  Whether you are a health professional, community leader, educator or parent, it is important to remember that we are first and foremost citizens of our shared community. True health care reform happens when we accept the responsibility to inspire wellness from within, and then make that contagious. 

Tags: community health health care Healthy eating nutrition education

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