Children's health depends on families' health; supporting families means responding to their self-identified needs for their children and, further, providing opportunities for community leadership to eliminate the root causes of disparities.
Cada Paso is a family walking program that integrates health education with access to relevant neighborhood health resources. Along with the physical fitness of walking, we endorse healthy habits (eating fresh fruit, drinking NYC's finest tap water, composting our waste in community gardens), we strengthen our social network and we provide informal time with volunteer allied health providers. Our families utilize visited health resources 40-70% of the time compared to under 5% if a resource is mentioned, but not visited on a walk.
But health does not ultimately reside in a medical facility. The roots of health are planted in the neighborhood space. Beyond responding to immediate child health needs, we promote active engagement with community initiatives, including improvements to the built environment (development of a city-sponsored walking trail, renovating a community garden to grow our own food), policy (endorsing environmental policies to reduce the health burden on our families), and economic opportunity (developing community wealth strategies with partner agencies, legal services for work visas).
The health disparities confronted by our families constitute injustice. Activating the local assets can alleviate the disparities. Our families are architects of a community that generates health for their children.