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SHEPHERDSVILLE — What exactly determines the overall health of a community?
Bullitt County Health Department’s Education Coordinator Cynthia Brown knows its much more than just the absence of illness.
A person’s overall health includes physical, spiritual and mental aspects, including access to adequate employment and healthcare, education and lots of opportunities for physical exercise and interaction.
The Health Department is seeking the input of the citizens on how to improve community health as part of a broader national initiative known as Mobilizing Action through Planning and Partnerships, sponsored by the National Association of County and City Health Officials.
After several months of spreading the word about the initiative, the Health Department is hosting its first community MAPP meeting Dec. 3.
MAPP is a program highly dependent on the input of community volunteers from all walks of life including the medical, government, business, civic, religious and educational sectors, just to name a few.
Brown said initializing MAPP in Bullitt County is one way for the Health Department to better serve the community.
“Monitoring the health status of the community is one of our 10 essential public health services. We’ve done several community assessments in the past, but this one brings more outside people to the table and that’s why we chose it,” she said.
Brown hopes to attract all types of individuals to the first MAPP meeting, which will be used to more deeply educate interested parties in the MAPP program as well as discuss how a “utopian” or “perfect” Bullitt County would look.
After community volunteers and partners have been identified, Brown said those people would be broken down into five teams, including a leadership team and four assessment teams. Each team will individually assess one of the following areas: community themes and strengths, the local public health system, the status of overall community health and forces of change within the community.
Brown said statistically the county’s number one and two killers are heart disease and cancer, caused primarily by physical inactivity, obesity and tobacco use. However, in order for community members to take ownership of those problems, they must be given an outlet in which to discuss those issues and others they believe affect the county’s overall public health.
“If you look at heart disease we have to ask, ‘Why are we physically inactive here? Is it because of lack of sidewalks and lighting, where people don’t feel safe to walk in the dark? Is it because lots of people commute to their jobs?’ (Those answers) all come out in the assessment phases,” she said.
Ultimately Brown said the entire MAPP process could take up to 18 months and will produce a “living document” or strategic plan on improving the overall health of the county’s citizens.
“It will be a document that every agency can take and hopefully, through the process, we’ve built strong enough partnerships that we work on the action steps in the strategic plan to bring about this utopian view of Bullitt County,” she said.
Brown said volunteers would be investing a time commitment of at least one meeting a month and possibly more if they serve on special sub committees.
She said that time commitment is crucial and could determine the health of current and future Bullitt County generations.
“It’s always nice to have your voice heard and this is a forum in which that can be accomplished. It’s better to be a part of the solution than suffer with the problem,” she said.
The first MAPP meeting will be held at the Bullitt County Health Department at 181 Lees Valley Road in Shepherdsville from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. Dec. 3. A light meal will be provided.
Anyone wishing to attend is asked to RSVP to Brown at 955-5355. For more information about the MAPP initiative, visit http://www.naccho.org/topics/infrastructure/MAPP/index.cfm.