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Building and sustaining healthy communities together
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Working Together for HealthyCommunities
The village mailman Chen Jin-cheng found some trash piled up in the corner one day while working his route. The putrid trash was attracting flies and mosquitoes, taking away from the otherwise beautiful scenery.
Chen could not bear to see the environment destroyed in this way and so everyday after work he would take some clips and some trash bags to clean up the area on his own. His initial efforts, however, were not met with support or encouragement from the community. Some villagers went as far as to laugh at Chen, saying he was a fool to do such thankless work. But in the end, Chens perseverance and enthusiasm inspired the villagers and two months later, they too were joining in to help pick up the trash. The next step for the community was to then form volunteer street-cleaning teams that worked together to promote an overall healthy community.
This was a case of successful community empowerment. One mans initiative inspired a community to achieve a consensus and collaborate effectively in solving the problem and needs of the community.
To promote healthy community building is one of the main objectives of the government. Authorities hope that community members can take greater responsibility for the control of their own health issue. The citizens of a community can work together in finding the health issues that affect them; then make improving them a part of everyday life through the different expertise and resources the community has to offer. It is further hoped that local citizens would take the initiative to promote activities suitable to their community culture in bringing about an overall healthy environment, which in turn would also serve to raise the quality of local life andhumane literacy.
Housewives Help to Promote Healthy Diets
Lifestyles change as society progresses. Diseases are on the rise in modern times due to dietary excess. The mortality rate of malignant tumors, strokes and cardiovascular problems is high. These illnesses, for the large part, are closely related to dietary habits. This has led to many communities in Taiwan promoting plans for New Healthier DietsProgram.There have been more calls for people to eat less oily, salty and sugary foods in favor of healthier choices such as foods with higher fiber content.
Ms. Liu Yue-shang is a case in point. She was just your typical housewife whose only stage was her own kitchen. But after volunteering for her local HealthyCommunityBuildingCenter, she stepped out of her otherwise narrow life circle and created the standard healthy community kitchen, which is a class that teaches how to prepare healthy cuisine.
The immediate effect of Ms. Lius efforts was that they encouraged local citizens to change their dietary habits. Ms. Liu herself served as a shining example to her students. Her new regiment of eating less oily, salty and sugary foods helped her lose 6 kilograms as well as improved an ailing liver. Neighbors and friends alike flocked to find out her secret for a slimmer, healthier body. Ms. Liu was more than pleased to share her wisdom and encouraged them all to join in the task of creating healthier diets.
Solving community health problems through such activities is a win-win situation for all involved. The members of a community come together to address an issue and at the same time become fitter and healthier citizens.
Bringing Campuses and Communities Closer
Can urban school campuses definitely become healthy and natural parks? That is right! Campuses can serve as more than places to study through healthy community building and the efforts of both faculty and students. In supporting the goal of a healthy community, healthy school campuses can become the supportive unit for the community health, and the part of multiple community culture health model. An added benefit is that students lose weight and stay fit in helping to spruce up their school grounds and empower the campuses. Many regulars turn up in the early morning or early evening to exercise on campuses. They take part in a variety of exercises that include Qi Gong, dancing and jogging. They come despite the weather. One retired doctor commented that exercise is still the best way to stay young and healthy even though there have been advances in medical science and healthcare. School campuses also serve as ecological parks for younger children. Kindergarten teachers often bring their young charges to schoolyards to take in some natural sites they may otherwise fail to see in the urban settings outside campus walls. In order to give something back to their urban oases, communities are volunteering to help keep the campuses clean, while some have even donated stone chairs for senior citizens to rest on while doing their exercise.
The walls between schools and communities have been broken down due to the enthusiasm of local citizens. School campuses are becoming a bigger part of community life in general because of citizen involvement. Campuses are giving the elderly a place to enjoy, helping cultivate colorful and meaningful lives for students and giving young children a healthy place to grow.
Building Quality Enviroments
Lai Chih-hsiang and some of his friends headed straight for a video arcade after school. His mother searched everywhere for him one day, but could not find him. A neighbor told her that her son and his friends were at the arcade. Chih-hsiangs mother finally found him and voiced her displeasure, to which her son answered that he and his friends came to the arcade because there was no where else to play in the neighborhood.
Chih-hsiangs mother was speechless. The next day she invited some other mothers from the neighborhood to work on what turned out to be a common dilemma for them all. They found that there was a vacant lot nearby that could be used as a basketball court and a place for the community residents to exercise outdoors.
This spurred the mothers into action. They pulled community resources to help promote the construction of a basketball court. Instead of commonly used steel, concrete and wire netting, they opted to use local bamboo for construction material. The residents pulled together and built the court step by step, surrounding it with a bamboo fence. When it was finished, they established a community basketball team and the overall health of the local residents improved now that they had a place to go and exercise.
Building quality environments is no longer just a dream! As long as community residents are willing to take matters into their own hands, they can build a more vibrant and healthy environment for all that live there.
Building a Healthier Taiwan
Chang Jui-cheng has been living in the same building for many years, but found few opportunities to interact with his neighbors. Chang thought that although modern medical science is helping people live longer , his own lack of mobility was still isolating him from others. This predicament led him to take some active steps. He heard through friends that there were some people promoting community health building in the neighborhood and decided to work with them. Chang got together with some other members of the community to work on such health issues as forbidding smoking in public areas, creating safer environments for children and senior citizens and working on more balanced and healthier diets for residents. The group decided to form a self-governing committee and sought help from healthy community building experts. Group members then devised plans to deal with community health issues and even drew up a pact for community members to sign agreeing to maintain community health standards.
Through the experience, residents found an important link in the process was establishing a healthy public policy. They found if they held rational debate and dialogue, then a common consensus could be reached that could provide a basis for overall community health as well as the most suitable policies for local health needs.
When building healthy communities becomes a priority in every corner of Taiwan, then relationships borne of a traditional humanism can find their way back into communities. This is reason that we are all dedicated to accepting the challenge of enhancing the quality of life and building new healthy Taiwan. We are all concerning the health as public policy to a healthier future for Taiwan in the 21st century.
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