It’s no secret that the declining health of our nation is a major public issue. The negative impact of our poor health habits is spreading, affecting not just each of us, but also our economy. It has been suggested that the current generation of young people will be the first to be less healthy than their parents, primarily due to sedentary lifestyles leading to obesity. They deserve better, but real change will require effort from all of us.
What do we do? How do we prevent future generations from suffering the consequences of unhealthy living?
The answer is for communities to begin to take responsibility for themselves rather than waiting for a government initiative or the latest scientific breakthrough. If community members were to combine their talents and resources to implement local, grass-roots initiatives, the health of the Centre Region would start to change for the better.
A great example is the Nutrition Habit Challenge, which starts Feb. 1 and runs through the entire month. The NHC is a grass-roots, community health initiative aimed at helping the Centre Region practice healthy nutrition habits. In 2014 (its first year), 720 people participated by making a small dietary change and practicing this change for 28 days. Last year, more than 2,200 people participated. If the NHC helps even a small percentage of those people make meaningful, long-lasting change, it has made a significant difference in the overall health of our community.
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The NHC does more than just allow people to practice healthy nutrition habits. It gives our community a chance to join together and promote healthy living practices. Medical professionals, business leaders, teachers and community members from all walks of life have joined together to promote the NHC simply because they believe in its mission. They realize that they have personal responsibility for the world we live in, and that they genuinely can make a difference here at home.
The NHC is an example that grass-roots initiatives can succeed, but they require effort from the entire community. Consider your contribution to the health of our community — could you be doing more? If the answer is yes, here are a few suggestions:
▪ Start by promoting and participating in the NHC 2016. After all, you and your family are part of the community you are trying to help. Go to www.nutritionhabit challenge.com and register. There is no registration fee and one lucky participant will win a trip for four to Disney World.
▪ Get involved with local organizations committed to grass-roots missions. The NHC, Centre Volunteers in Medicine, People Centre’d on Diabetes and the Youth Service Bureau are good places to start.
▪ Get creative! The NHC is just one creative initiative. There are many bright minds in our community that can create effective, motivating initiatives.
Regardless of profession, health or social status, all community members have a responsibility to contribute to the good health of the Centre Region. For 2016, let’s all be certain that we do.
Bruce Burke is founder of One on One in State College, and co-founder of The Nutrition Habit Challenge. He can be reached through www.oneononefit.com.