What is a Healthy Community?? There are many definitions out there, the one here is from the Centers for Disease Control:
“A community that is continuously creating and improving those physical and social environments and expanding those community resources that enable people to mutually support each other in performing all the functions of life and in developing to their maximum potential.”
What is your maximum potential? And how do you reach it?
These questions will probably bring about a variety of answers based on individual needs and abilities. We all have an individual level of maximum potential and we all need different things in order to achieve that. Health too is an individual state of being. We all have an individual state of being that we deem “healthy” or “fit” AND we all need different things in order to achieve that.
So how does a community constantly create and improve the physical and social environment and expand its resources so that everyone can support each other in ALL of life’s functions as well as developing to their own individual maximum potential??
To me a healthy community has the opportunity to obtain proper health care services, the opportunity to receive a good education, the opportunity to play, the opportunity to be social, the opportunity to be intellectually stimulated, the opportunity to be physically active, and the opportunity to be safe while you take advantage of all these other opportunities. And these opportunities must be for everyone.
For many of us, the opportunity to participate is taken for granted. I’ll admit it, I don’t feel as if I have encountered many barriers to my personal health pursuits. That’s where program coordinators and community leaders that, like myself, may not be personally familiar with barriers but have so much to offer to the health of a community, must be educated in terms of making their opportunities available to everyone.
Therefore being inclusive, accessible and available for all, including individuals with a variety of needs, abilities, function, and health conditions is hugely important. This may sound like a big job, but in truth, some simple guidance can assist these program leaders and key community members in establishing programs for all.
Here are some ideas:
· Establish an “Advisory Board” of community members (including consumers with disabilities) to help advise local service providers of low-cost ways to be more accessible and disability friendly.
· Make use of your local Chamber of Commerce, alderman’s office, neighborhood planning committee or other similar local organizations to either get the word out about an “Advisory Board” or to provide materials on accessibility and disability etiquette. These organizations would likely be the first to know when a new service provider or program is coming to your community so getting involved from the beginning could be key.
Please share your ideas for making healthy opportunities in your community available to all.