Researchers discover that life expectancy varies from zip code

Cathy and I had planned on going camping one last time this last weekend. Well, you know what the weather was like, so we revised our plans. It wasn’t as much fun as camping, but it was more fun than sitting in a trailer in the rain.
 This week I thought I would write a little more in depth about the Community Health Academy, which was made available by the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation, that David Tate and I attended.  
 The education revolves around the concepts of the Social Determinants of Health. The idea is that a person’s health is not just determined by their genes, amount they exercise, or their food choices. From what I understand, researchers had discovered a while back that life expectancy in this country varied from zip code to zip code. 
 In expanding the research to discover why this was so, they found that there were five main areas affecting a person’s health: Economic stability, education access and quality, health care access and quality, neighborhood built environment, and social and community context.
 Studying all aspects of all five areas would be daunting to say the least. So, the Community Health Academy chose to focus on areas where cities could exert some influence or control.
 The first session was about affordable housing. The speaker discussed how housing security was foundational to a person’s well-being. 
 We then went to see a couple of projects in Boise for getting people into new, very modest houses. Although the presentation was interesting to learn about and observe, the results would be difficult to replicate here due to economics. Much of the funding for the houses we looked at were financed by grants and donated land to help homeless people get off the street. Weiser’s housing shortage is a bit different. The new development in town has the possibility to help ease the housing shortage but, again, economics will be the major factor on the success.
 The next presentation was by the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children. The discussion centered around the need for quality early childcare and education and the impact of the lack thereof on Idaho’s economy. The economic impact included the fact that parents must often leave the workforce to provide for their children. If a parent can find childcare, the quality of the care has a huge impact on the development of the child. The quality of the care and education is typically dependent on the cost, which many young families have difficulty affording.  
 The presenter provided a considerable amount of material for us to take back to learn more about the challenges and, also, ways to address those challenges. 
 I am happy to say that I reached out to one of our early childhood educators here in town for both of us to look over the material and then get back together to go onto next steps.
 The third presentation was more to help us as participants. The session revolved around civility. The speaker gave some very helpful instruction on how to maintain personal control of ourselves and keep the conversation civil when we find ourselves in stressful situations.
 There were more sessions that I will talk about in the next article.
 Well, that’s it for this week. I hope that you are adjusting to the cold weather. I just wouldn’t recommend camping right now.


Signal American

18 E. Idaho St.
Weiser, ID 83672
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