Saturday, August 30, 2014

What keeps our community alive, vibrant and thriving?

2/14/2014

How healthy is our community and what factors help determine its well-being? Those questions and many more are at the heart of The Herald’s annual three-part Progress edition, which begins today, focusing on some of the people behind the scenes of our vibrant and thriving community. Next week’s edition focuses on many of the businesses serving, in part, as predictors of a community’s health.

Many people associate health as merely a physical attribute, but such an assessment would be incomplete without also looking at mental health, spiritual health, environmental health, recreational health, social health, business health, educational health, behavioral health, organizational health, local engagement and even a community’s appetite and aptitude for health improvement. All of these areas comprise the rich tapestry of a community.

How healthy is our community and what factors help determine its well-being? Those questions and many more are at the heart of The Herald’s annual three-part Progress edition, which begins today, focusing on some of the people behind the scenes of our vibrant and thriving community. Next week’s edition focuses on many of the businesses serving, in part, as predictors of a community’s health.

Many people associate health as merely a physical attribute, but such an assessment would be incomplete without also looking at mental health, spiritual health, environmental health, recreational health, social health, business health, educational health, behavioral health, organizational health, local engagement and even a community’s appetite and aptitude for health improvement. All of these areas comprise the rich tapestry of a community.

Ottawa’s first inhabitants were members of the Ottawa Indian Tribe. Their spirit remains, and today’s edition contains an illustration of their legacy through the pattern of the tribe’s distinctive and symbolic beadwork. Though it is part of our community’s past, it is important to preserve this remnant and the culture it represented.

The beadwork representing today’s Franklin County residents might take on an entirely different look based on its current day inhabitants and their health.

Locally relevant indicators of a community’s health, according to the National Association of County and City Health Officials, include:

• Knowing what health problems are affecting large numbers of people and if those health problems have serious consequences; Are the trends improving or worsening? Are the health problems susceptible to possible interventions? Does the health problem only affect certain groups? If so, what are the disparities?

• Does the issue have broad implications over the long term for potential health improvements?

• By addressing this issue, is there potential for a major breakthrough in approaching community health improvement?

• Is this issue one that has been persistent, nagging and seemingly unsolvable?

• Does this issue identify a particular strength that can be replicated throughout the community?

• Is ongoing monitoring of this issue possible?

Clearly, none of these problems, even when they are known, can be solved overnight, but with a strong focus on tackling various issues from various fronts with local advocates for each, a community can nibble away at problems and lessen their negative impact on a community’s health.

Ottawa is celebrating its 150th birthday later this year, followed by Ottawa University’s 150th next year. This serves as an appropriate time to take a look at where the community and county have been, where they are today and where we want to be in the future.

A community’s past can be a strong predictor of its future. Are we “Healthy @ 150?” You decide.

— Jeanny Sharp,

editor and Publisher

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