Coastal Voices: Health effort needs input


An early summer light rain on the North Coast is a time for reflection and contemplation.

A very dedicated group of Del Norte and adjacent tribal lands (DNATL) community folks have been working on improving our communities' health. This broad, diverse coalition of local people has developed a "health plan" informed by data provided by the California Center for Rural Policy (CCRP) at Humboldt State University, traditional state and federal agency sources, The California Endowment (TCE) and most importantly, our local DNATL folks.

Together we have determined where to concentrate our efforts over the next 10 years and beyond to assure a healthier DNATL. Together we have developed a process that is fair and accessible to all DNATL residents. Together we have chosen to improve health by going as far "upstream" as possible to prevent unhealthy choices.

Fifty years ago, President Kennedy said that Americans do not

undertake challenges because they are easy, but because they are hard;

DNATL residents have heard the call and are up to the challenge!

As the sponsor of the Building Healthy Communities (BHC) effort

statewide, The California Endowment has begun making investments here

and in 13 other sites in California.

Here's what that means to us.

andbull; Investments are beginning to be made to support the work of people

taking on projects to improve health in the outcome areas, in accordance

with our local plan.

andbull; There is approximately $1 million yearly to be invested; more is

available if the outcomes support it.

andbull; There is no deadline for applications; the process is ongoing

andbull; Some groups have received funding; many groups are in conversation

with our program manager, Laura Olson, to determine if the work being

done fits within the plan.

andbull; The work will be data-driven and the projects must move the needle

in the outcome/results areas. Learning, planning, data collection,

raising the profile of problems, improving communication, building

leaders and community engagement are the steps used. CCRP will help us

ensure that progress is being made.

Criteria for the work is that it be community led, designed to build

leadership, develop youth participation and voice, engage new

constituencies, ethnicities, all geographies, and policies and systems

changes that will have long-term, positive effects on community health.

Here are some of the grants and the work in progress.

andbull; Community Assistance Network to support food policy and the local

food environment.

andbull; A fully equipped dental van is being built and will be delivered


andbull; Pre-school enrolling young children for the fall.

andbull; Community gardens are going in.

andbull; Salad bars will be available in all schools.

andbull; A summer youth mapping project that will include leadership,

advocacy, organizing and team building. The youth developed "map" will

provide perspective on health in neighborhoods throughout DNATL that

will be used as a baseline by the BHC collaborative and to help

encourage our young people to advocate for issues of concern that they


andbull; Learning and capacity building sessions here and throughout the

state to explore best and promising practices.

I have been involved in health care here since the early 1970s. My

thinking on what "health" is both individually and collectively has

changed significantly over the years. It has become apparent to me that

individual health is determined primarily by four factors: personal

responsibility 40 percent; societal and environmental 30 percent;

genetics 20 percent; direct medical intervention 10 percent.

When "health," both individually and community wide, is viewed in

this manner, improving community health involves more than the

traditional "medical community." The Building Healthy Communities

initiative allows us to become part of the solution.

The tools we need are being made available to us. Our program

officer, Laura Olson, has been involved in our community through her

work with the Humboldt Area Foundation for many years and is an

excellent bridge for us to TCE. To its credit, TCE has not forced its

will upon us in this process. Yes it has guidelines within which we must

operate, but it understands that the answers we seek come from within,

not without. The table is large and has room for all; if you are not

sitting there it is because you do not want to!

I invite you to joins us in building a healthier Del Norte and

adjacent tribal lands. Your voice is needed. Contact Amber Talbert, HUB

coordinator, at 465-1238 for more information.

Clarke Moore is director of the Del Norte Healthcare District.

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