Consider what makes a community “healthy.” Your list may include access to nutritious foods; safe places for all children, youth and adults to live, work and play; access to quality health care; opportunities to receive a good education and get a good job — and more.
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles recently asked young people to assess the health of their community. The hospital team, in partnership with local youth-serving organizations, first worked with youth to better understand the concept of social drivers of health and how their community affects their health.
Then the young people went out into their neighborhoods to take photos, identifying community health needs and assets. More than 150 young people participated in CHLA’s 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment Youth Photovoice Project, which became an online photo exhibit called “Through My Lens: Elevating the Voices of LA County Youth.” Many of these photos were displayed at the AHA Accelerating Health Equity Conference in Minneapolis last month, and you can learn more about this project by visiting AHA.org.
June 12–18 is Community Health Improvement Week. This annual recognition week focuses on how people at hospitals, health systems, national organizations and community organizations are working together to improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities and advance health equity. This week, AHA is highlighting many community health improvement resources and stories from the AHA Community Health Improvement (ACHI) network, on the web and across social media channels.
New this year are “Community Health Improvement in Action videos” shared by hospitals and health systems that answer the question “what makes a community healthy” and spotlight creative programs and inspiring initiatives, like the one from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. But they’re more than feel-good stories: This work is affecting real change by reducing hospital readmissions, linking patients and families to social services, communicating accurate health information, ensuring equitable access to health care and more.
I encourage your organization to share your community health improvement work and its impact as well. Visit AHA.org for ideas on ways to celebrate and post your stories on social medial using #CHIWeek.
We must continue our work to ensure all individuals and communities are healthy by identifying, assessing and prioritizing community health and social needs; developing and implementing interventions to address unmet needs; and improving data-sharing, research and ongoing education and communication.
Most of us, I imagine, would agree that a healthy community is an environment where all people enjoy good health and well-being, with opportunities to grow, learn and make connections that enhance our lives. Join AHA in celebrating Community Health Improvement Week and share how you are helping make your community healthy.