National Public Health Week 2018: Changing Our Future Together

Tomorrow I’ll be back to talking about Inclusive Innovation Week, and the opportunity I had to speak on a panel about transit and equity, but something else happened last week that I wanted to make sure I talked about: National Public Health Week (NPHW).

Graduate School of Public Health

I’ve talked about my work/studying in public health before, but I know there are many people who don’t really know what public health is. Because it’s such a broad field, there isn’t one strict definition of what the field is – I like to think of it as any work that makes, or keeps, people healthy. This means that, of course, vaccines are part of public health, and so is behavioral health, ensuring a healthy environment, and health equity.

I thought it was really appropriate that Inclusive Innovation Week and NPHW were the same week this year, especially since NPHW’s theme this year was “Changing Our Future Together.” To me, that is exactly the point of Inclusive Innovation Week – creating a future where everyone is included and involved!

I mentioned health equity as one of the fields of public health – to me, the work I’ve been starting to increase accessibility for people with physical disabilities fits perfectly in this box. Accessibility isn’t often thought of as a health issue – the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is civil rights law, so accessibility as a civil right is where the conversation begins and ends. To be clear – I absolutely think that accessibility is a civil right! But that doesn’t mean it’s not a public health issue, too. So much of being healthy relies on being able to get out of your house – to avoid being isolated and reclusive. And to get out, there needs to be accessible transportation (which I’ll talk more about tomorrow), whether it’s sidewalks with curb cuts or accessible vehicles. And it’s not only physical changes, either – for things to truly be equitable, there needs to be a societal shift in the way that disability is viewed as a burden.

This is why I love public health – it touches on so many different issues, and really has the potential to change the future for the better! I’m really glad to have the opportunity to work and study in this field.

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