As I was working on a grant proposal a while back, I came across the following definition of health from the World Health Organization: health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. This definition rings true for us at the United Way as well. We have to take into account the all of the factors that affect our health…not just the most obvious ones like illness and diet.
By breaking down the definition into four parts, we can see how most everything we work to promote at the United Way is linked to our health.
- Physical Well Being: We are currently supporting collaborative programs that are working to reduce the number of low birth-weight babies born in our community (Partners: Salina Family Health Care, CAPS, March of Dimes, CKF, and Salina County Health Department) and as well as programs which assist ER patients identified with a substance abuse disorder in eliminating barriers to long-term recovery by engaging in services offered through the Pathfinder Recovery Center (Partners: CKF, Salina Regional Health Center, Salina Housing Authority, Salina Rescue Mission, Ashby House, Central Kansas Mental Health Center). The Salina Area United Way also works with United Cerebral Palsy to increase the number of persons who secure assistive technology or medical equipment. UCP collaborates with OCCK, AMBUCS, Goodwill Industries and SRHC Infant Stimulation to ensure that those who need equipment are identified.
- Mental Well Being: The North Central Kansas Chapter of the American Red Cross is working to ensure that businesses and organizations are enrolled in the Ready Rating Program. In the case there is an emergency, this will ensure that businesses and their employees are prepared and will be able to continue business as soon as possible after a disaster. ARC works with Saline County Emergency Operations, Salina Regional Health Center, and the Salina Chamber to achieve this goal. The Salina Area United Way’s community impact program: Partners In Early Childhood Education (PIECE) has trained over 17 mental health providers in the community to work with families with children ages 0-5 on social and emotional issues which may prevent the children from a successful start in kindergarten.
- Social Well Being: The Salina Area United Way has embarked on a new program called Community Conversations. This program is about turning outward to authentically engage members of the community which generates public knowledge that can be used to inform decision making. In this age of electronic communication, I truly believe that in-person conversation is something many of us are longing for. Our first several conversations have been full of energy and interesting ideas. We are excited to share that information with you!
- Absence of Disease or Infirmity: We have begun to convene those who work in the health-related fields in our community to share with each other the programs, results and successes that each is having in this area. We hope that by gathering all of the “players” in one room, we can help facilitate communication and work together to identify and work through solutions to some of our largest local issues such as obesity, sexually transmitted diseases and physical inactivity. If you are curious about how we rank with the rest of Kansas (and the country) there is great information on the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps Website.
Our Bold Health Goal is that by 2018 we will increase the number of youth and adults who are healthy and avoiding risky behavior, and our focus has always been on the building blocks for a good quality of life: education, income and health. We recruit people and organizations who bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. We invite you to be a part of the change. You can give, you can advocate and you can volunteer. That’s what it means to LIVE UNITED.
Executive Director, Salina Area United Way