Supporting Health Equity at Home
When it comes to giving children a fair chance to live healthy, successful lives, it can be tough to know where to start. Although solutions for equity must take place in organizations and systems to remove barriers to health that our society has built over time, families can play an important role in advocating for this change.
Families can also take small steps to create healthier environments that provide children the safety, stability, and wellness they need to thrive. Consider some of the following strategies to help the young people in your life feel equipped to be their best selves:
- Prioritize your own well-being. We must ensure that we are ready to meet children’s physical, social, and emotional needs by first attending to our own. Practice noticing your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and identifying what you need to achieve your goals in different situations. Not only will doing so help you feel equipped to support your loved ones, but practicing these skills regularly shows your children healthy ways to manage their own daily challenges.
- Promote a positive sense of self in children. Children do better in school and in life when they feel safe and supported. To help build self-awareness and resilience, have family conversations about what is most important to you and how your daily activities align with your core values. Share fun, healthy traditions with children, such as cooking a favorite family meal or volunteering for a cause in your community together. Help children identify and empathize with others by exploring toys, books, and movies that reflect diverse characters in positive and powerful roles.
- Connect with your child’s school. Parents and caregivers can teach children important decision-making skills by helping to ensure school policies and practices provide equitable opportunities for them to succeed. Consider asking school administrators questions like:
- How do you include students and families in decision-making?
- How are diversity and inclusion integrated into programs and curriculum?
- How are students’ physical and social-emotional health needs being met?
- What community organizations do you work with to support families like mine?
- Advocate for healthy environments. Community members can use the power of their voice and choice to increase access to nutritious, affordable foods and safe environments for physical activity for all families. For example, consumers can request that local stores stock healthy, family-friendly items like fresh fruit, whole grain granola bars, and sparkling water. Families can also urge schools and organizations in their community to provide safe access to facilities such as playgrounds, gymnasiums and walking tracks so they can enjoy being physically active together.