Developing Community and Public Health Capacity for Change

March Health Awareness Campaigns

National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Brain Injury Awareness Month

National Kidney Cancer Awareness Month

Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month

National Myeloma Awareness Month

National Nutrition Month

National Endometriosis Month

Workplace Eye Wellness Month

National Save Your Vision Month

Hemophilia Month

National Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Month

American Red Cross Month

Learning Disabilities Awareness Month

National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

National Eye Donor Month

National Poison Prevention Month

National Professional Social Work Month

Save Your Vision Month

For those in community or public health, the topics in this article will be nothing new-but as busy professionals ourselves, we often find it helpful to be reminded of the basic premises of our chosen fields. It’s so easy in our hectic-and very important-drive to complete work tasks that we lose sight of those core values for which we strive.There are a growing number of evidence-based interventions for use by community and public health professionals to promote health and prevent disease. [Leeman, Calancie, et al: 2015] These practices have the potential to improve environments, behaviors, and health outcomes in our communities. In order to adopt these practices, however, public health agencies and community partners often need additional tools, strategies, and training to enhance their capacity to improve health outcomes.The most effective prevention strategies actively engage the communities they are intended to serve. Effective health promotion and health-enhancing social change require communities to identify, plan, channel resources, and take action. The concept that a community is the solution to its own problems is not new. There is considerable support for designing community-based interventions to improve the health behaviors and overall health status of community members. According to Sotomayor, Pawlik, and Dominguez in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, “These community-based interventions are important because health disparities and the high rate of chronic diseases in minority populations, particularly among those who are poor and lack access to community resources, are not likely to be prevented without them.” [Sotomayor, Pawlik, and Dominguez: 2007]The U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s Healthy People 2020 strives to

Identify nationwide health improvement priorities.

Increase public awareness and understanding of the determinants of health, disease, and disability and the opportunities for progress.

Provide measurable objectives and goals that are applicable at the national, State, and local levels.

Engage multiple sectors to take actions to strengthen policies and improve practices that are driven by the best available evidence and knowledge.

Identify critical research, evaluation, and data collection needs.

Many health prevention and promotion consultants stress the importance that local leaders play in building community health. The Healthy People 2020 toolkit Identifying & Engaging Community Partners, answers the question “How Do You Define Meaningful Citizen Participation?” in this way:

Power to make decisions and affect outcomes

Citizen driven; from the community up, not top down

Proactive, not reactive

Encourages and facilitates broad community involvement

Inclusive, not exclusive; accessible to all

Balanced representation in the participation process; not just major “partners”

Consensus-oriented decision making Compromise; give and take

Opportunities for involvement in all levels of activity, which include creating a vision, planning, prioritizing, deciding, evaluating [ODPHP: 2010]

Building strong relationships with necessary community partners can be time consuming. Facilitating meetings to allow the meaningful participation outlined above requires a particular, practiced set of skills. Here’s where a community health consultant could be extremely valuable. Each community health consultant is different, of course, but in general he or she will have significant experience with the following tasks:

Developing health education and promotion programs, such as school or community presentations, workshops, trainings, etc.

Writing and formatting health education materials, such as reports, bulletins, and visual aids, to address public health concerns.

Developing working relationships with agencies and organizations interested in public health.

Designing and conducting evaluations to assess the quality and performance of health communication and education programs.

Collaborating with community groups and public health officials to identify community health needs and the availability of services needed.

Writing press releases and public service announcements, conducting media campaigns, or maintaining program-related Web sites.

Developing grant proposals to obtain funding for health education programs and related work.

Education – We’re Failing Our Children

There are reams of reading and stacks of studies purporting to assess various problems of the United States’ educational system. Each problem turns out to be rooted in our individual failure to place an extremely high value on a solid education. Our failure contrasts sharply with societal values of China, India or Japan where admission to universities is a high calling and competition for scarce slots is fierce.This failure to assign a high value to education is all too easily laid at the feet of society rather than each of us. Unfortunately, that approach allows individuals to escape responsibility for doing something to reverse the “… rising tide of mediocrity”, so well documented a whole generation ago by the National Commission on Excellence in Education.1 If we truly cared we would be working, really hard, to reverse that tide.The numerous findings of the Commission as to content, expectations, time and teaching2 are more compelling today than they were then. Little has been done to: extend the school year or extend daily hours in school. Those remain the same. (note 10 infra) A full core of language, math and science for all students is not required and only a third of students study the solid subjects.3 Teacher pay remains low in comparison to other professional opportunities for college graduates.4 Dropouts are 30% or higher.5 The disproportionate influence of the education lobby continues.6The consequences of a failed system are severe. Our kids won’t have good jobs. Their quality of life will decline, sharply. Our culture will lose international influence. Commerce does not wait. CEOs can hire better educated workers offshore to sustain value. Why should the rest of us wait at home?In 2005 the prestigious ACT noted: “… the number of post secondary school graduates will not be sufficient to fill the more than 14 million new jobs that will be added to the labor market by 2008. And, leaving high school without being prepared … will cost our nation over $16 billion each year in remediation, lost productivity, and increased demands on criminal justice and welfare systems.”7In 1984 thirty seven states had minimum competency tests for high school graduation. By 1995 the number was seventeen. The minimums have tended to become maximums, thus lowering standards for all.8 Today rank and file teachers say with some irony that “No Child Left Behind” is coming to mean “All Children Left Behind.”9The organized time that children spend learning in school has remained static at 180 days per year and about 6 hours per day for a generation. By contrast, educators in China, with one fortieth the per capita GDP of the United States, have 8 hour school days in its poorest, worst educated province.10 Talk about valuing education!The Commission also noted that a “… 1981 survey of 45 States revealed shortages of mathematics teachers in 43 States, critical shortages of earth sciences teachers in 33
States, and of physics teachers everywhere. This shortage persists. The percent of college graduates going into the teaching profession has continued to decline.11One specific thing we can do is vote! Votes can emphasize values. Votes get the attention of those who make policy. Even though federal and state education policies tend to dominate, a critical link in our system of education is the independent nature of local school boards. Where voters in local districts can lead, those politics can also help to elect state and federal officials with values that can help.In short, we need to build a better value system for education. Ask prospective School Board members; ask state and federal candidates what they will do, specifically, to raise the priority of, and fund, high quality education for our children. Elect and retain those with pro-education answers, and actions. Don’t vote for those whose talk — and actions — fail to show that education is a topmost priority.As parents, we must tell our children we value education highly — and back those words with deeds. Teachers alone cannot be expected to change the value system of our society. The preeminent value we place on education must be clear in all our social interactions, and in our families. Even through poverty, divorce, and single parenthood, education must be sustained as a most important activity of family life. No electronic toys, or ipods, or play time, until all of the homework is done. No cell phone privileges unless grades are up to snuff. And we all can think of additional ways to drive home the point that hardly anything is more important to our children and their posterity than acquiring a quality education. Learning well is simply essential to their future.12Citations:1 A Nation At Risk: National Commission on Excellence in Education; April 1983
2 ibid: Findings; also following Note 10 re teacher shortages
3 Courses Count: ACT 2005 (American College Testing, formerly)
4 USCA: New Teachers and Old Pay Structures; 2002
5 Manhattan Institute: High School Graduation Rates in the U.S.; 2001
6 American Behavioral Scientist: The Political Context of Higher Education; 2000
7 ACT: Courses Count; Preparing Students for Post Secondary Success; 2005
8 Synthesis Report 20; NCEO 1995
9 Desert Sands Unified School District: Author interviews; 2006-2007
10 The Education Sector; Washington D.C. and IUCN Asia Directorate; 2001 (Ghizou; Lowest urban GDP/worst education)
11 Opportunity in Education
12 Author David L. Smith is retired from a dual career in local government and in business. He has owned a company, served as Chairman and CEO of a ten-university consortium doing technology transfers, and as County Administrator for one of California’s largest counties. He is state certified as a guest teacher, grades K-12, for his local school district.

Home Business Tips – 10 Helpful Home Business Items

Online Fax Service
You never know when you are going to need to get an important fax. You might have a regular fax machine in your home office, but you might want to have a backup plan. An online fax service doesn’t have to cost a lot of money and it might even help you save a little bit of money. When you have a regular fax machine, you might receive some unwanted faxes and they can use up your valuable printer paper. With an online fax solution, you don’t have to print every fax that you receive. Instead of using up your printer paper, you can just hit the delete button.

Laser Printer / Color Laser Printer
Documents are becoming more digital by saving them as pdfs, but you are still going to want to print hard copies. A good laser printer can give you really good quality printouts. The cost of laser printers have really dropped and they provide a fast and good way to produce documents. Color laser printing can be really effective when it comes to creating marketing materials.

Scanner
A scanner can help you turn those physical documents into a digital version. Think about all the photos that you have accumulated. You can use a flatbed scanner to put them in a form where you can keep them stored safely digitally.

High Speed Fax Machine
Faxes are not as popular as in the past, but it still helps to have a good high speed fax for when the time arises to send your information quickly. You don’t want to sit and wait for a large document to get sent via fax. A good quality high speed fax machine can come in handy when you need one.

PDF Software
The new way to send documents is to use pdfs. Now you can create documents and send them as pdf attachments in email or stored in an online file system. There are lots of different pdf software programs that make creating pdfs easy. Converting documents to pdf is going to be a regular part of your home office duties. Get the software that is simple and easy to use and configure.

Small Business Accounting Software
Keep track of the expenses and income that your home office generates. There are lots of small business accounting programs that can help you manage your home business finances. Easy software that can allow you to run reports and graph your home business activity can be helpful.

Smartphone
A home business owner wants to stay connected to the action of business and a smartphone can help. Smartphones allow you to connect to the internet, check emails and use web applications. Your smartphone can act as a home business tool while you are outside of the office. Answer phone calls, use text messages and take advantage of mobile web apps to help grow your home business.

Tablet Computer
Smartphones are great for home business, but you might want to consider getting a tablet computer for your home business also. Tablet computers are also touchscreen and the displays can be larger than a smartphone. Use tablet computers for viewing the web or for making presentations. Tablets come in a number of different varieties. The apple iPad and apple iPad mini are top tablet sellers. There is also a large market of Google android tablets. A tablet computer can help you see the possibilities of mobile marketing opportunities for your home business.

Wireless Keyboard Mouse Combo
Get a wireless keyboard and mouse combo. You don’t have to be tied to the computer by wires anymore. A standard keyboard might come with the basic buttons for typing, but you can get extras by using a wireless keyboard and mouse combo. Some wireless combos have shortcuts and extra buttons that can help you save time. The ability to launch your favorite applications with one button click can help you become more efficient.

Video Camera / Web Camera
Are you using videos in your home business? Getting a video camera and a web cam is going to be a good idea. Creating videos and posting them online can help with your home business marketing. You could do simple things like create tutorials for the products that you create or create videos to review the products that you like to use. What about video calls? Do you use skype? A web cam can be a good addition for using your video calling program. What about creating videos and selling them as information products. You don’t just have to post your videos on YouTube. You could create videos and turn them into information products for your target audience.