Healthy Neighborhoods, Healthy You

“America is built on the notion that we are our brothers’ and our sisters’ keepers, and that we all have certain obligations to one another. Never is that idea truer than when ensuring the health of the world our children will live in long after we are gone. This week, let us treat every child as if they are our own by accepting our responsibilities to leave them with a healthier, cleaner planet than we have, and let us continue reaching for a brighter, more secure future for all the world’s people.”

– President Barack Obama
Proclamation, National Public Health Week

This week is National Public Health Week!

What is the first thing that you think of when you think about public health?

I bet it’s not your community.

When we think of health, we tend to think of our bodies, of being sick or the exercise we get. When we think about public health, we tend to think about flu shots or our drinking water.

We don’t usually think about the street we live on, our neighbors or our community. Why would we? What sort of health impact do our neighborhoods have on us?

A big one, believe it or not.

People and place are connected in many different ways. Not least of all through health.

The places you live, work and play can have a big impact on your health and life.

Creating safer, healthier communities is good for everyone. In fact, Building a Nation of Safe, Healthy Communities is first on the list when you visit the National Public Health Week’s website. First on the list! That must mean it’s important.

If you still aren’t convinced that your neighborhood is a big health factor, here a couple of examples of professionals talking about the importance of where you live, work or play as it relates to your health.

Social Determinants of Health

According to a Health Affairs study, social circumstances is listed second (only after genetics) as a leading determinant of health. Third on the list is environmental conditions, which includes the places people live and work.

“Health is powerfully influenced by education, employment, income disparities, poverty, housing, crime, and social cohesion.”

The Case For More Active Policy Attention To Health Promotion, Health Affairs.

Neighborhood Perception

Even just thinking that you live in a certain type of neighborhood can impact your health. This past July, the Post Gazette published an article detailing a study, by a Professor from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Nursing, about how neighborhood perception (i.e. whether you think you live in a good neighborhood) can effect stress levels, which can in turn have a range of health implications.

“Compared with those who say they live in good quality neighborhoods, those in poor quality neighborhoods showed reduced telomere lengths equivalent to the addition of 12 biological years to their actual ages.”

– Stress in neighborhood may be linked to faster aging, Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

Growth Through Energy & Community Health

Here at GTECH,  our vision is thriving communities of engaged, empowered and equipped individuals leveraging new opportunities in the green economy in order to transform community liabilities into assets.

We believe that the process of empowering, engaging and equipping people will spur change in the neighborhoods we work in, and that this change will lead to healthier communities.

For some examples of how the work that we do and the people that we work with are building community health, read about our Ambassadors in McKeesport and in the South of Pittsburgh, some of our Green Playces partners, and about resilience.

What can you do to help increase your health – and the health of your neighborhood?

You can increase your health, and work towards building a healthy neighborhood around you. Here are a few ways you could start:

Get involved! Attend local community meetings, and get to know your local government representatives.

  • Start in your neighborhood! Visit lots to love to see vacant lot projects that are happening in your community, or start your own. Post about what you’re doing to share with others!
  • Stay in touch! Keep an eye on our upcoming events, and make sure you’re signed up to receive our newsletter.
  • Check out the NPHW calendar of events, or submit your own event to celebrate this week!
  • Take the APHA pledge for a Healthier America!

Don’t forget that it’s also Inclusive Innovation Week in our very own City of Pittsburgh!

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