Why Everyday People Make The Best Health Leaders

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All across America, a new energy is emerging; everyday people are doing extraordinary things to change the health and wellness of entire communities. More people are exercising, seeking healthy meal options, losing weight and stepping away from tobacco.  But not all communities are on-board. Typically communities of color suffer from ailments such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke at rates much higher than their white counterparts. As a matter of fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death across most racial and ethnic minority communities in the United States, accounting for 25 percent of all deaths. The reasons for this are plentiful, but the solutions are few.  It’s time to energize the minority communities to see better health.

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The American Heart Association is committed to being a catalyst for change through programs like EmPowered To Serve. The success of this program and the level of community impact depends on the support of individuals, groups and organizations uniting to change social determinants of health and building healthy environments where the default choice is the healthy choice.

“While this may sound like a big task, the reality is that individuals can make simple, consistent, changes that can have an extraordinary impact on the health of an entire community,” says Nancy Brown, chief executive officer, American Heart Association.

Three easy ways to cultivate a thriving culture of health include: knowing “what’s up” becoming a “change agent” and joining EmPowered To Serve.

Know “what’s up”

Different communities are affected by different health conditions. Prevalence of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and other conditions is based on factors such as population and accessibility to healthy foods and parks. When you are aware of what your church or community group needs to improve on, you can work smarter and target a specific condition.

How can you know “what’s up”?  The American Heart Association provides environmental and individual health assessments like My Life Check (based on the knowledge and experience of its medical experts) to help assess the current level of cardiovascular health, and provide steps to improve health and quality of life.