People’s power over themselves and their communities was the theme of a session “Transforming Local Communities to Achieve Health Equity” during this week’s annual meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA).
“Building people power is the most important thing that we can do to advance health equity and create the type of inclusive democracy that we’re all seeking,” said presenter Sandra Witt, program director of Healthy Communities-North Region at the California Endowment. “Building power isn’t just a means to an end. It’s actually the goal.”
Powerlessness is associated with poor health outcomes, and structural imbalances in power “are not just passively replicated but actively maintained,” Witt said.
Here at The Pump Handle, we want to share some of the great reporting from the APHA Annual Meeting blog.
The California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities initiative is a 10-year, $1 billion place-based initiative aimed at tackling the root causes of poor outcomes and transforming communities that have historically been disinvested in into thriving communities. Witt highlighted three key health equity-promoting principles of Building Healthy Communities, summed up as the ABCs: agency, belonging and changing underlying conditions.
Agency is the power or control people have over their own lives and communities. Belonging is being seen, heard and valued by others. Belonging means supporting people in telling their own stories, sharing their dreams and hopes, and challenging the status quo.
Changing underlying conditions means developing policies and systems changes to improve the political and socioeconomic conditions in place, which will improve health outcomes over the long-term, Witt said. Continue reading
“What we’re trying to do here is change the odds for people, rather than expect people to beat the odds,” she said. Continue reading…