NMC Commentary

Can a March Turn into a Movement?

Yes!  Whenever people are paying attention to what is happening around them and willing to get involved to work for change, a real ‘movement’ is possible. Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  Think of what would happen if that small group started in and others joined and suddenly there were a large group! This question is particularly relevant for us right now, not just in terms of the recent marches that took place across our country (and elsewhere in the world) but also in terms of our own personal health, the health of our community, and the health of Vermont’s population.

I reflected on this the other day as I watched the television coverage and the social media exchanges regarding the marches for equal rights that unfolded after the inauguration of President Trump.  I will tell you, honestly, I did not vote for Donald Trump – and I also did not vote for Hillary Clinton.  I see the future and our path to it differently enough from both that neither earned my vote.  Still, I have to hand it to President Trump.  He has brought America alive.  People are paying attention.  People are talking.  People are participating.  People are marching!  Whether you agree with his policies and approaches or not, I think it is hard to argue that there is not more energy and more passion churning through our political discussions than we have seen in years.  Rather than sitting by and being complacent, people are taking stands.  I hope that this translates into positive action where those with differing opinions come together and find solutions so that what began as a march can indeed become a movement that all can take part in as we re-unify as a country and pursue a shared vision together.

I see that same opportunity – with an even better chance at success, in all honesty – as I look at my own health, the health of my family, my workplace, our community, and our state.  Isn’t it time to march for better health?  Isn’t it time to show our passion for preventing illness and disease?  Isn’t it time to embrace healthier lifestyles? Isn’t it time to call out for our State leaders and our systems to invest in primary prevention to improve the quality of life in Vermont and, longer-term, bend the cost curve by reducing the demand for costly healthcare services?    RiseVT offers a path to a healthier future for all of us. It has grown into a movement and its time is NOW.

For too long, we have accepted poor health and chronic disease as a natural part of life.  We can change that in many instances.  Chronic conditions are avoidable if caught in time and the proper (and comparatively inexpensive) steps are taken.   We all can live a little better by making healthy life choices. Healthcare costs related to preventable disease  can be reduced. That fires me up.  That motivates me.  That makes me want to march!

Are you with me?  For each of us as individuals, making changes in our own habits can be the first step in this march.  Invest in yourself every day by getting in a walk or some other physical activity – involve your family and friends and turn it into active play!  Or maybe nutrition is your focus.  Make a healthier food choice each day.  A few more fruits and vegetables?  Make it simple by adding one new change in your life and turn it to a new normal.   Choose to take a 10 minute walk.  Choose to add a vegetable. Choose to quit smoking.  Add water to you drink list today.  Any one of these would be awesome steps in this march towards better health.

Maybe there IS a march in our future where we do all travel to the capitol building in Montpelier or the Agency of Human Services building in Waterbury or to Washington DC itself and demonstrate our support for a healthier future investing in primary prevention starting with children and families.  Our political and healthcare systems can work together to change how prevention efforts are funded to focus on improved population health, accelerate positive change, and create an environment where the healthy choice is the easy choice.

What do you stand for?  Do you stand for a healthier future?  If so, connect with RiseVT, our community campaign to embrace healthier lifestyles.  Visit www.RiseVT.com and complete your personal scorecard to get started.  Check out the great information from RiseVT every Tuesday in the St. Albans Messenger. Pick what you want to work on and take a personal next step in a march toward healthier habits.  Pay attention to what is happening at the state level in relation to investing in primary prevention.  Let your community leaders know that a healthier community is your priority and you want action.

— Jill Berry Bowen, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer