Health equity comes from changing the policies, systems, and environments that create inequity.

Policy, systems and environmental (PSE) change is a process designed to intentionally examine and sustainably improve relationships, resources, environments and policies that create the conditions in which we work, live and play. Rather than focusing solely on programming or individual behavior change, PSE changes utilize a broader approach by recognizing and addressing the root causes of issues, which are often stubborn and woven throughout networks of people, organizations, governments, and historical causes and effects.

For many years, Extension health programs have focused on changing individuals’ behaviors through education. While education is essential, it is unlikely to drive community- or institution-level change. Systems change is about addressing the root causes of issues, which are often stubborn and woven throughout networks of people, organizations, governments, and historical causes and effects. It is a process designed to intentionally examine and alter relationships, resources, environments and policies that cause institutions to behave in a particular way.

Well Connected Communities is using policy, systems and environmental, or PSE, change approaches to go beyond programming and address the conditions that can put life-long health and well-being within everyone’s reach. Changes in communities and across the Extension network will come with time, and today’s small wins will eventually lead to bigger ones.

Health Equity is at the Heart of Opportunity

Good health is at the core of what makes a good life. But 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.

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: Photo by RF._.studio from Pexels