Healthy community and social issues

Beyond what we would naturally think of as rural economic development — job creation, new businesses/industry, reducing unnecessary spending, productivity and so on — the positive social development of any community is vital.

Positive social development is not always easily measured but oftentimes is based on what we see, hear, or feel about a condition, event, or place within our community. Positive social development encompasses the human needs within a community such as pride, happiness, security and health.

The detriment to positive social development is the negative social problems faced by communities on a daily basis which are measurable, such as dropout rates, alcoholism, drug abuse and poverty. According to the 2015 Community Health Needs Assessment conducted by the Gila County Health Department and Cobre Valley Regional Medical Center, some of the major social issues facing our communities within Gila County include the following:

31 percent of teens reported using alcohol;

20 percent of teens reported using marijuana;

33 percent of adults are obese;

25 percent of the population is not physically active;

High rate of coronary heart disease;

High rate of diabetes;

High rate of respiratory disease;

High rate of sexually transmitted disease;

High rate of suicide; and,

High rate of teen pregnancy.

Economic and social factors tremendously influence the health of a community and we need to improve what drives the wellness of our communities. These influences include adequate housing, schools, churches, healthcare and opportunities for our population to be physically active.

Through a collaborative effort our community can have a swimming facility for competition, water aerobics, swim lessons, events, and areas of recreation for all age groups. Together we can reduce negative social issues plaguing our community and instill pride, happiness, security, and health.

We all can probably think of reasons why we shouldn’t focus on this project, but maybe we should focus on the reasons why we should.