It’s no secret that the declining health of our nation is a major public issue. It has been suggested that the current generation of young people will be the first to be less healthy than their parents, primarily because of a lifestyle leading to obesity. They deserve better, but real change will require effort from all of us.
The negative impact of our poor health habits is spreading, affecting not just each of us, but also our economy. What do we do? How do we prevent future generations from suffering the consequences of unhealthy living?
The answer must be for communities to begin to take responsibility for themselves, rather than waiting for a government initiative or the latest scientific breakthrough. This might seem obvious, but are we doing it? 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.
People Centre’d on Diabetes has embraced this premise since 2008. It’s composed of medical professionals, community members and those suffering with diabetes. This unique combination of members allows PCOD to effectively live up to its mission by educating the community about diabetes and providing solutions for healthy living.
A great example is PCOD’s support of the Nutrition Habit Challenge (www.nutritionhabitchallenge.com), which was held during February. The NHC is a grass-roots, community health initiative aimed at helping residents of 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. This year, more than 2,200 people participated. If the NHC helps even half of those people make meaningful, long-lasting change, we are making a significant difference.
The NHC has done more than just empower people to practice healthy nutrition habits; it’s given 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 2015 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 making small improvements in your personal health and the health of your family. After all, you and your family are part of the community you are trying to help.
• Get involved with organizations (such as PCOD) committed to grass-roots missions.
• Get creative. The NHC is just one creative initiative. There are many bright minds in our community that can create fun, 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. Let’s join together and take it on.