Creating Health Equity :: Exploring Social Determinants Of Health In Acadiana
Hello, fellow moms and parents!
Welcome to our blog series on social determinants of health (SDOH) and the community initiatives we can support to make our families healthier and promote health equity in Acadiana. Throughout this series, we’ll take a closer look at the factors that impact our well-being and the specific programs and efforts by community organizations that can make a difference. Today, let’s start by exploring the things that affect our health and the health of our children, with a focus on Lafayette and the surrounding areas.
First, let’s understand what we mean by “social determinants of health.” These are things around us that can impact how healthy we are and how our kids grow up. SDOH are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age that influence their health outcomes. When we think about health, there are many important factors to consider. These include mortality rates, illness and disease rates, life expectancy, healthcare costs, overall health status, and limitations in daily activities.
It’s important to recognize that many families in Acadiana are still struggling to make ends meet, even if they have jobs. Shockingly, nearly half of the households in Lafayette Parish are considered to be living in poverty or are classified as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). This means that although they earn more than the poverty line, they still find it challenging to meet all their basic needs. Unfortunately, this situation affects their ability to purchase healthy food, find a secure place to live, and access healthcare. We must collaborate to ensure that everyone is compensated fairly, explore more opportunities to earn money and support families like ours. In doing so, we can guarantee that our children have an equal chance to thrive and maintain good health.
One crucial aspect to consider is education. As parents, we all desire the best for our children. However, in Acadiana, some kids lack access to quality schools and learning opportunities, which can have a significant impact on their overall health and development. To make a difference, it’s essential to advocate for better education for every child, particularly in their early years. By supporting programs that facilitate learning, we can ensure that every child is given an equal opportunity to thrive. By doing so, we can secure a brighter and healthier future for our kids.
Neighborhood and Physical Environment
Now, let’s talk about our homes, neighborhoods, and physical environment. Having a safe and comfortable place to live is essential for our families. But it’s not just about the house itself; our surroundings also play a crucial role in our health. The neighborhood we live in and the physical environment around us can significantly impact our well-being and that of our children. Access to safe parks, green spaces, and community resources can encourage active lifestyles, social connections, and better mental health. On the other hand, living in areas with limited resources, unsafe environments, or exposure to pollution can have negative effects on our health. We need to explore ways to improve our neighborhoods, advocate for cleaner environments, and work towards creating healthier physical spaces for our families to thrive in.
Now, let’s talk about our homes, neighborhoods, and physical environment. Having a safe and comfortable place to live is essential for our families. But it’s not just about the house itself; our surroundings also play a crucial role in our health. The neighborhood we live in and the physical environment around us can significantly impact our well-being and that of our children. Access to safe parks, green spaces, and community resources can encourage active lifestyles, social connections, and better mental health. On the other hand, living in areas with limited resources, unsafe environments can have negative effects on our health. We need to explore ways to improve our neighborhoods, advocate for cleaner, safer environments, and work towards creating healthier physical spaces for our families to thrive in.
Healthy Food Access
Food insecurity, or the lack of consistent access to nutritious and affordable food, is another important social determinant of health. Many families in our region face challenges in obtaining an adequate and healthy diet. Limited access to grocery stores with fresh produce, high food prices, and transportation barriers can contribute to food insecurity. This, in turn, can negatively impact our children’s health, development, and overall well-being. We must support initiatives that address food insecurity, such as local food banks, community gardens, and policies that promote affordable and nutritious food options. By ensuring that our families have access to healthy food, we can improve health outcomes and promote equity in our communities.
Community and Social Context
In addition to the factors we’ve discussed, our community and social context profoundly influence our health and the well-being of our children. The relationships we build, the support we receive, and the sense of belonging within our community all have a significant impact. It’s crucial to recognize that discrimination and inequities can affect the health outcomes of individuals, particularly among BIPOC community members. Addressing systemic barriers, advocating for equality, and fostering a community that celebrates diversity and inclusion are vital steps toward creating a healthier and more equitable environment for all. By actively challenging discrimination and embracing the richness of our diverse community, we contribute to the well-being of our families and promote a more just society. Together, let’s stand against discrimination, uplift marginalized voices, and work towards a community where everyone can thrive.
When we work together as a community to participate in programs, lend a helping hand, and spread positivity, we create an uplifting environment where our children can thrive. As parents and caregivers, let’s team up to promote health and equality in our community.
Keep an eye out for upcoming blog posts in this series, where we’ll dive deeper into each topic and provide practical ways to make a positive impact, and highlight some of the work being done in Acadiana right now.