Learning How Zip Code Can Affect Life Expectancy at National 4-H Summit for Healthy Living

Participants at the 2021 National 4-H Summit for Healthy Living learned how one’s zip code can predict one’s life expectancy from Katrina Badger, program officer for “Healthy Communities” for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).  Badger used Richmond, Virginia as an example of a city where life expectancy from one area of the city to another can differ up to 20 years, leading to a discussion of the social determinants of health.  Watch Badger’s remarks below and see if the data for a city near you can be found here.

RWJF is America’s largest health philanthropy foundation.

REPOST: With a Focus on Equity, Geography No Longer Has To Be Destiny

By Olugbenga Ajilore and Katrina Badger  November 19, 2020, 3:51 pm

This article was originally posted on The Center for American Progress website and is reposted here with permission. To read the full article visit https://ampr.gs/3pJaNQ6.

Regardless of where people in the United States live—rural, urban, or somewhere in between—the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their lives and livelihoods. Certain groups are suffering disproportionately, including people of color, workers with low incomes, front-line workers, and people living in places that were already struggling financially before the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic. Many rural, tribal, and parts of metropolitan areas fall into the “already struggling” category—places that were dealing with health, economic, and social inequities long before the coronavirus arrived.

Likewise, the police killing of George Floyd and other Black Americans, one of the flashpoints sparking the most recent calls for racial justice, has affected the entire country. And while the focus of the protests has been on major urban centers, the media began compiling cases where predominantly white, small-town America—in Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Maine, and beyond—marched in support of the movement for Black lives. In these moments, people tend to forget that rural America encompasses the lands and peoples of more than 560 sovereign Indigenous nations; Black and Latino hubs in the Deep South and Southwest; and refugee communities across the Midwest.

With the pandemic calling for racial justice, the challenges of rural communities may seem at first glance unrelated; looking just a bit closer, however, it becomes clear that this issue and these regions are intimately connected. Advancing health and racial equity in America requires a broad set of stakeholders, such as researchers, lawmakers, and on-the-ground advocates, to make significant investment in rural areas in order to move policy and build power. To that end, policymakers must build a more comprehensive equity analysis that accounts for economic, racial, health, as well as geographic inequities.

When considering the question of how to drive action on this new approach, policymakers at all levels must factor in the following key insights and understandings…

To read the full article visit https://ampr.gs/3pJaNQ6.

Understanding Policy, Systems, and Environmental Change

Photo: Clint Adair via Unsplash

Health is created in the places where we live, work, learn, and play. Our ability to make healthy choices is dictated by the conditions of those places. Policy, Systems, and Environmental (PSE) change can influence health by changing the conditions within communities– making the healthy choice the easy choice. PSE changes often stretch beyond the benefits of programs to create population level impacts.

Explore the rich set of resources below to help to grow your community’s capacity to understand and advance policy, systems, and environmental change.

Policy, Systems, and Environmental Change Overview

PSE 101: Building Healthier Communities through Policy, Systems and Environmental Change

Moving from Programs to Policy, Systems, and Environmental Changes

What is Policy, Systems and Environmental Change (PSE)?

Policy, Systems, and Environmental Change Resource Guide

Partnering4Health: Policy, Systems, and Environmental (PSE) Approach to
Improving Access to Healthy Food and Beverage Through Community Food Systems

Policy Change

Policies are written statements created and adopted by organizations, agencies, and stakeholders intended to achieve specific health goals. Policy change is a tool used by communities across the country to improve population health by advancing initiatives that can affect the behaviors of entire populations more efficiently than other tools. For example, a policy that places restrictions on unhealthy food and beverage marketing in schools reduces exposure and consumption of unhealthy food in school cafeterias.

What is Policy?

5 Ways Public Policy Impacts Health

Getting Started with Policy Change

Worksheet: Getting Started with Policy

Increasing Fresh Produce in Kansas City, MO via Urban Agriculture

Utah New Roots Food Access Program

Systems Change

System change involves transforming and redesigning the practices and structures within organizations, institutions or networks to promote better health outcomes. System change addresses problems on a fundamental level and often works hand-in-hand with policy change. An example of a systems change is the creation of a Farm-to-School initiative that creates processes to rebuild healthy food systems in school by serving local produce in the cafeteria and instituting food education opportunities in the classroom.

Systems: Action for PSE Change

Fostering Systems Change

Community Approaches to Systems Change

Food as a Catalyst for Change

Food Procurement as an Opportunity to Improve Local Food Systems

Environmental Change

Environmental change involves transforming the economic, social, or physical contexts in the lived-environment that affect health outcomes. Environmental change strategies are often used in conjunction with other strategies to improve population health. An example of an environmental change would be to increase the number of community garden plots on vacant land to grow community engagement and improve food security. 

Physical Environment: County Health Rankings Model

How does where we live, work, and play affect our health?

What impact does the environment have on us?

Community Success Stories: Rural residents find grassroots solutions to life in a food desert

Authors: Robyn Garratt (Institute for People, Place, and Possibility) and Stacy Wegley (Community Initiatives)

Take A Path Toward Health One Step At a Time

Fifty years ago, astronaut Neil Armstrong walked as the first man on the moon with his epic quote “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.  Youth in Connersville, IN used that as the launching pad for the first ever “Daylight Moonwalk” in their community, drawing a giant response of 128 citizens who turned out to take a walking break despite a rainy day.  This was part of the Fayette County, IN. Well Connected Community (WCC) Initiative where organizers are seeking to establish a health coalition.

The WCC youth-adult team combined forces with a nonprofit called “Community Voices”.  Together they sketched out 4 routes in downtown Connersville, three under a mile long and taking 12-20 minutes to walk. The 4th route was a combination of the other three routes, taking 45 minutes to walk 1.8 miles. They focused on downtown where over 150 local government employees work sedentary jobs. The youth applied for a $1,000.00 local foundation grant which they received to buy t-shirts, healthy prizes and snacks, and signage.  The t-shirts were imprinted with a youth-designed logo and the slogan paraphrasing Armstrong’s famous quote “Take a path toward health one step at a time”, which the youth hope to use again in the future.  Eight community organizations including a local bank and insurance company collaborated on the event.

Teens and adults manned the central booth located in the Courthouse parking lot Farmers’ Market on June 15, 2019.  Of the 128 walkers, 41 (nearly one-third) were youngsters!  The teens calculated that the walkers made 281,722 steps (134.5 miles), burning 11,600 calories.  55 committed to a 12-week online walking program called Get WalkIN developed by Purdue University School of Nursing.

Thanks to coverage by a local newspaper, one of the local hospitals decided to be a supporter of establishing the desired community health coalition. Potential funding is being sought for permanent signage to mark the “walking break trails”.

Carrying out the theme of the event, this could be one giant step towards better health for the entire community as a community coalition searches out the priority health issues for this town and works as a body to address those concerns.

Youth Lead the Way in Scott County, Indiana’s Come Back from Opioids

posted in: Set Your Priorities, Update | 0

When the 24,000 population of Scott County, Indiana, was hit by 200+ cases of HIV, and the 2015 County Health Rankings and Roadmaps ranked it 92nd out of 92 Indiana counties in health outcomes, the whole community rallied. While a multi-faceted approach was identified engaging hundreds of citizens, the youth led the way as community leaders and future adults. Scott County became a part of the Well Connected Community Initiative as one of Indiana’s three pilot communities.

A youth-driven and youth-managed coalition called EMPOWER was founded in March 2018 by three Scott County youth with a desire to improve their community’s prevention work. EMPOWER has now grown to a membership of 40+, ages 12-18, who believe that with the right tools, healthy, safe and drug-free lives can be encouraged. EMPOWER’s mission is to align youth with their community to create a powerful impact through prevention, health improvement and positive relationships. The group is comprised of students from the two Scott County school districts. Representatives attend the local substance abuse coalition monthly meetings of CEASe during the school day, an indication of support. The youth coalition is part of the Scott County Drug Free Communities (DFC) Support Program initiative and holds monthly meetings after school to make it more available to all students.

EMPOWER has represented Scott County’s prevention efforts in front of state and national audiences, such as presentations at the 2nd Annual South Central Opioid Summit in Bloomington, IN; Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA)’s National Leadership Forum in National Harbor, MD, and a Mid-Year Training opportunity in Orlando, FL. It is a powerful mecca for other youth to join this work; for example, an open house and end of year celebration by EMPOWER drew over 43 peers. Further, their social media presence exists on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram   connecting youth with youth and youth with adults.

The community has developed a strategic plan for addressing this issue, and the youth are organizing sober socialization events for all. In order to track attendance, the youth are developing a cutting-edge approach to using Bluetooth technology with strategically placed beacons that will track attendance points to be used for prizes, some of which will be donated by the community. Healthy, safe events such as church activities, high school basketball, football, and soccer games, as well as part-time jobs, will be lifted up with youth encouraging other youth to participate.

Another focus of the strategic plan involves educating all ages of the community about the dangers of prescription drug misuse. A series of Community Health Events conducted by a partnership between the Scott County EMS, CEASe and EMPOWER were held with youth coalition members involved in distributing public relations information, participating in health series events and distributing prescription medication lock boxes to Scott County families. These lock boxes were secured through a community grant application written by EMPOWER members.

Youth-adult partnerships are one of the most effective ways to engage both parties in meaningful activities, which is why Scott County youth are recognized as equal partners in all health coalition efforts,” said CEASe and Drug Free Communities Coordinator, Lori Croasdell. “Our EMPOWER youth coalition colleagues are involved in positive, meaningful, respectful relationships with adult collaborators. This practice not only helps us to increase our local youth leadership capacity, it’s building collaborative skills of our adult members as well. Scott County youth-adult partnerships take place as we work together to plan and learn, with both groups sharing equally in the decision-making process. This dynamic is very different from many or our past relationships, in which adults took leadership roles and youth were assigned inferior roles, or when our youth made all the decisions while adults sat back and watched. Instead, our partnerships build on the strengths of each group, and our outcomes have been stronger.”

The youth have also initiated a series of videos promoting a county-wide positive social norms campaign, called “What’s Your Side Effect?”  While educating young people on the realities of prescription drug abuse is important, research has shown that traditional fear-based anti-drug messaging is not particularly effective. The “What’s Your Side Effect?” approach is to package information on prescription drugs inside a broader message of hope and inspiration, recognizing that drug abuse often originates with emotional, social and psychological factors, not with a lack of information. By inspiring young people to think about their passions and the effect they are having on their community by pursuing those passions, their focus can be redirected to help promote a lifestyle that will reduce abuse risk factors. See all of the Scott County’s “What’s Your Side Effect?” Videos on the CEASe of Scott County YouTube Channel:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFHwSNs9zKp1_Ueqgb8BDOQ/videos

Undergirding these efforts are funds from a series of grants totaling $350,000 that are fueling the entire community outreach, which includes education, training, and promotion. See the positive effects of this work on “Thriving IN Scott County” website (http://thrivinginscottcounty.com/).

County Extension Director Tammy Walker sees this community’s participation in the Well Connected Communities initiative as helping to organize through the development of an action plan, and by providing tools to help the community see its collaborative efforts leveraged.

Emery County, Utah, Youth Focus on Healthier Living

Emery County representatives on the County Youth Council attended the Utah State University Extension 4-H Teens Reaching Youth (TRY) training in March and decided to focus on health activities for younger youth in their community to practice what they had learned. Dani Jo, Dazi Mae and Deri Lee Thatcher, Sydney Carter, and Jakoda Funk conducted three wellness sessions for children in the Emery community, a planner site within the Well Connected Communities Initiative.

Each day camp included three activity topics, such as:

  • Teeth and tooth brushing with each child receiving a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss kit donated by a local dentist.
  • Physical activity with the children making activity dice to determine what they did and how many times they did it.
  • Basic first aid
  • Healthy eating with menu planning, drinking more water and foods they like to eat
  • Mental health with children making calming jars, garden of greatness flowers and “Don’t worry” journals

The curriculum used by the teens for some of the activities was “Learn, Grow, Eat. Go!” from Texas A & M University. The sessions were attended by 15 children.

The teens are also working on a day camp with 35 children registered.  The theme for the camp is “Don’t Bug Me; Bee Healthy”. Guiding the teens is adult volunteer coach Cassie Thatcher.

One 6 year-old was so proud to announce that she had brushed her teeth on her own with her new toothbrush. Another boy who had never played soccer had such a great time with it that he wants to play soccer all the time.  And one of the teens declared: “I thought this was going to be boring, BUT this was SUPER fun!!”

These events are part of the intervention for the opioid issue that the community is focused upon, with activities planned to enhance the mental health of the children of this community.