Trying to explain our new community transformation model and how it applies to Charlotte and the surrounding region has created a unique opportunity for the American Heart Association. We have always been known for science and research. The kind that has afforded us medical advancements and guidelines that save lives. Our community also knows us for our inspirational events: Heart Walk, Heart Ball and Go Red Luncheon. They even know us for CPR trainings and advocacy efforts around tobacco cessation. What they don’t know is that the AHA is working hard to address issues relating to health equity, access to care, improvements in our communities and so much more.
After months of interviews with key stakeholders, health data collection, meetings with community partners and focus groups about barriers to positive health outcomes, we have developed our Policies, Systems and Environments plan for Mecklenburg County. A roadmap to address social determinants of health: conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age that influence their overall health.
Too many parts of our community lack places to buy healthy food, find equitable health care and be physically active in a safe environment. Accessible options for healthy living are often limited in lower income neighborhoods and many cardiovascular disease risk factors disproportionately impact people of color.
The truth is, for many people living in Mecklenburg County, their health is determined by their zip code. So, we are trying to help change that! The American Heart Association is making a concerted effort to advocate for safe streets, healthy food and access to care in these underserved areas. We are also bringing attention to these issues through a new outdoor board campaign that launches this week.
This in-kind, year-round campaign from Adams Outdoor will appear on 14 x 48 billboards throughout the county and in our messaging for 2019. Three little words, that we hope will make a difference in the conditions many are facing and how these affect the health of our community. Let’s change that.