People Want to Use Their Voice

As has become an annual activity for our organization, before we ring in the new year, we take a look back at events, projects and moments from 2014 that have impacted the health care scene in our communities and our nation.

On day five of our Year In Review series, Health Forward Program Officer Andres Dominguez challenges us to meet recommendations that emerged from the Community Conversation on Health.

What if you host a party and nobody shows up? That’s always a worry. What if you host a community conversation and you are at capacity? Well that was a reality.

On October 11, the Health Forward Foundation, in partnership with United Way of Greater Kansas City, hosted the Community Conversation on Health.

Community Conversation on HealthOur task: to convene a diverse group of people from our service area. We set 150 participants as our goal. We proudly had nearly 300 active participants and a dedicated slate of volunteers who served on committees and acted as facilitators.

The participants’ mission was to describe a healthy individual and community, and then identify the challenges and barriers that people in neighborhoods experience. Finally, they described what success would look like. Simple enough, yet quite complex when an audience reflects the greater community at large; it’s next to impossible to anticipate the answers. At the end of the day, more than 37,000 responses were transmitted and priorities were identified. The final report highlights the central themes.

But what now?

The challenge for KC civic leadership and philanthropy is how to best respond to the report. There are many opportunities for convergence. Within your organizations, I suggest having a frank discussion about how to proceed with the recommendations. Beyond that, the challenge for all of us is to identify how can we work together to meet these community recommendations.

I like to think of this slate of recommendations as a Community Contract, a real partnership. How vested parties respond can dramatically change the lives of families for years to come. To do nothing would negate the value of insight and real-life experiences. It would be to ignore the voices of the people who are living within the conditions that need improvement.

William A. Schambra with the Hudson Institute, recently challenged philanthropy to “entertain the possibility that local knowledge and traditional wisdom may be superior to scientific rationality when it comes to solving human problems.” People want to use their voice, they want to be heard.

Residents from this region presented their health vision for our city. There is plenty of work ahead in getting to the kind of health people deserve.

Health Forward

Health Forward Foundation
2300 Main Street, Suite 304
Kansas City, MO 64108
(816) 241-7006