“We now know more than ever about what works in communities from Fortuna to Fontana and from Willits to Watts: Prevention is the key, and every sector has a role.”
That was the message Prevention Institute’s Manal Aboelata delivered to the Senate Health Committee on February 12, a message that reflected the lessons community health advocates have learned over decades of work to create healthy communities in California. Manal was invited to testify at the hearing, which focused on turning back the tide of chronic disease and saving health care dollars.
Manal highlighted the work of community health advocates who know what works to make their communities healthier. Advocates like America Bracho from Latino Health Access shone a spotlight on the lack of safe places to play for children in her Santa Ana neighborhood. Veva Islas-Hooker sparked a dialogue about access to clean drinking water and fresh fruits and vegetables in the Central Valley. And Dana Richardson demonstrated the safety concerns that prevent children and parents from using local streets and parks in Chula Vista.
She also underscored the urgent need to scale up investments in health, safety and equity: “Californians are asking for a real culture of health… the fact is that far too many California institutions are hindering healthy choices or promoting unhealthy behaviors – and this is not just bad for health, it is bad for our economy and it is bad for the environment. Too many California children lack basic access to physical education or physical activity in schools, afterschool and day care centers. All children face a barrage of marketing of unhealthy products and African-American and Latino children are even more relentlessly targeted by foods that are nutritionally hollow. And families that want to buy healthy foods are confronted by cheap foods and drinks that may help them stretch their food dollar, but they are crowding out the foods and beverages that are the foundation for health. We can do better.”
She called on the Senate Health Committee to provide leadership in three key areas:
Apply a “health in all policies” lens to decision-making.
Prioritize state spending in communities experiencing the greatest inequities.
Convene statewide listening sessions to hear directly from local and regional leaders about the strategies that are making their communities healthier.
Are you as inspired as we are? Here are the ways you can join us to advance policy for healthy safe, and equitable communities:
We also want to share our heartfelt thanks to the many partners who contributed to this testimony:
Peggy Agron, Rachel Bennett, Jeremy Cantor, Julia Caplan, Lori Dorfman, Susan Elizabeth, George Flores, William L. Haar, Lisa Hershey, Arnell Hinkle, George Manalo-LeClair, Sarah Mittermaier, Sharen Muraoka, Sheilagh Polk, Linda Rudolph, Juliet Sims, Chad Spoon, Laurie True, Jeanie Ward-Walker, and the California Endowment for making our work possible.