A healthy, strong community

United Ways understand that a healthy community is a strong first step towards a thriving and strong community. Being healthy makes it easier to concentrate in school and be successful at work. We believe that providing access to quality health services and health insurance; creating healthy communities; increasing physical activity and access to healthy food; and ensuring that children and families get off to a healthy start, are essential for helping people reach that goal of success. Health and poverty perpetuate an alarming cycle that can become staggering to disrupt. When it comes to accessing health services and healthy life options, a person’s zip code should never be a deterrent to success, nor should it be a barrier to improved health. Yet for many, that’s a daily reality. Seniors, those living in poverty, those facing mental health issues, and others may not always get the help they need to live happy, productive and healthy lives. We strive to ensure that all members of our community can get the help they need, when they need it.

So what is a healthy community? What does that really look like? We believe that a healthy community is all about opportunity– the opportunity to reach your own maximum personal potential. We think that a healthy community provides the opportunity to obtain proper health care services, the opportunity to receive a good education, the opportunity to play, the opportunity to be social, the opportunity to be intellectually stimulated, the opportunity to be physically active, and the opportunity to be safe while you take advantage of all these other opportunities. And these opportunities must be for everyone.

Therefore being inclusive, accessible and available for all, including individuals with a variety of needs, abilities, function, and health conditions is hugely important.

By making it easier for individuals to access substance abuse programs, mental health counseling, receive quality health care and access nutritious foods, we’re fighting to help everyone in our community get–and stay–healthy. From supporting emergency food pantries to community health clinics to after school programs, we’re committed to building healthy communities, one person at a time. We whole heartedly believe that healthy people create strong communities. Healthy communities are more economically stable and more inviting for commerce development. Economically stable communities afford greater health opportunities to all. It is a cycle, and we are determined to be a part of the force that helps to mobilize that cycle in a positive rotation.

One of the greatest initiatives that our United Way leads in an effort to promote the hand in hand progress of health and economic stability is our FamilyWize Prescription Savings Program. The FamilyWize program is free and saves participants an average of around 40 percent off of their prescription medications. Accepted at more than 60,000 pharmacies nationwide and covering all FDA-approved prescription medications, the FamilyWize card has no eligibility requirements and is available to anyone. The program is beneficial to the insured, the uninsured and the underinsured. It helps to provide access to medications addressing critical health concerns. Individuals and families in our community continue to struggle to stay healthy due to the high cost of their prescription medications. Our partnership with FamilyWize has allowed us to offer resources to our community members for accessing more affordable healthcare, especially in the heart disease, diabetes and mental health therapy areas. In 2017, members have saved more than $210,000 on prescription medications.

The impact we’re making is changing lives.

We have been fortunate over the last two years to partner with the Sisters Health Foundation to bring increased awareness to this program. Getting the materials into the community makes a measurable difference. When our neighbors can save $210,000 in prescription costs in a single year, that means they kept more money in their pockets to be spent on other basic needs: housing, utilities, healthy foods, and more. That’s good for those families and that’s good for our economy.

The FamilyWize program promotion is a great vehicle for health centered discussions and activities in our community. This week our United Way hosted its inaugural 5K Color Run and Family Fun Day. A family friendly course through the explosion of color held in conjunction with a community health expo and children’s activities. What a wonderful way to get the whole family up, out and moving on a Saturday morning. Also a great way to connect everyone to the many resources in our community. We continue to strive towards a healthier community because we know it is critical to growing and maintaining a thriving and vibrant community. We continue to work towards these goals because we know they are attainable through intent visions for change and strong collaborations. We are committed to a healthier community — one person at a time!

To sign up for the FamilyWize program, visit www.familywize.org, download the Apple or Android mobile app, or print out the card. The card is also available at the United Way office and our Partner locations.

Stacy DeCicco is executive director of the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley.

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