The Cooperative Extension System’s Well Connected Communities initiative helps build diverse, multigenerational, cross-sector coalitions that can recognize and address systemic health inequities. By intentionally forging connections, building capacity, and taking action in these communities and across the Extension network we can ensure that life-long health and well-being are within everyone’s reach.
The Importance of Health Equity
Health is more than we have been led to believe. It is not about just being sick or well. It is the state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. When we look at health in this broader context, it includes happiness, prosperity, high life satisfaction, and a sense of meaning or purpose. It is at the core of what makes a good life.
Access to good, affordable health care is important, but other determinants of health like economic stability, our neighborhoods and physical environments, quality education, affordable and nutritious food, and a sense of belonging and community supports play important roles too.
For some Americans, good health and well-being come down to access and choices that our life circumstances make easy. For others, those choices are limited or made impossible by the conditions in the places where we live, learn, work and play.
The reality is that the life expectancies of people living in the same area but different neighborhoods may differ by 20 years or more. Those 20 years should be there for the taking, and not something that anyone must earn.
We achieve health equity by addressing the barriers – like poverty and discrimination – that are keeping optimal health out of reach for many. These barriers, or determinants, are so tightly related that by systemically addressing one, you may likely tackle the cause and effects of the others. In other words: One good solution can solve many problems.
By intentionally forging connections, building capacity, and taking action in these communities and across the Extension network we can ensure that life-long health and well-being are within everyone’s reach.
Health Equity is at the Heart of Opportunity
Arbitrary circumstances like zip code, race, and ethnicity can dictate both people’s heath and their opportunities in life. Addressing one can help improve the other, and vice versa.
Improving Health Equity Means Changing Policies, Systems & Environments
PSE change goes beyond programming to address the conditions that can put life-long health and well-being out of reach for many.
Youth-Adult Partnership Creates Sustainable Change
Including youth in developing solutions that affect them leads to more sustainable results, empowered youth, and future leaders.
Photos: Family, Agung Pandit Wiguna from Pexels, neighborhood, from Pexels; urban neighborhood, from Pexels; opportunity, National 4-H Council; PSE change, National 4-H Council; youth-adult partnership, National 4-H Council;