2020 Challenges or 2020 Vision?

Written by Lucy Connery, YNPN Greater Bflo Ambassador

“Out of adversity comes opportunity.” – Benjamin Franklin

2020 has presented so many challenges for our Western New York Community, our country, and the world; however, with these challenges come opportunities. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the world how important health is in day-to-day life, the Black Lives Matter Movement continues to combat social injustice and health inequity, and our Greater Buffalo community has united to show our community resilience and innovation.

Our culture is ever-evolving, and one aspect of this evolution is the definition of health; health is no longer defined as the absence of illness, it is now defined by achieving a positive balance of our social, economic, environmental, mental, and personal health. Our region is addressing the challenges we face in a multitude of creative ways. The Healthy Communities 2030! Team is collaborating with community partners and sponsors to broadcast BeEnriched Buffalo, a summer television series of STEM classes to help supplement time lost in the classroom and to reach families with unequal access to technology. The REACH (Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health) Ferry Street Project is introducing digital walking routes, events, and promotions to at-risk communities. The Mindfulness Alliance, the Mental Health Advocates of WNY, and many other mental health service organizations are working to support our community during these times of struggle.

Our local community health organizations are rising to the challenge of addressing community health, well-being, and quality of life, and our community members are doing the same to support one another. In many neighborhoods around Western New York, you’ll see supportive lawn signs, inspirational sidewalk chalk, and creative decorations to celebrate personal achievements and milestones with the rest of the neighborhood. In many ways, the challenges that this new decade has presented have brought our region closer together; in other ways, people may feel more disconnected than ever before. Our work is not done.

Although we have been adapting to our ‘new normal’ since March, the efforts to address community health and quality of life must continue to achieve our goals and improve our well-being. Your call to action as a reader is to reach out to your neighbors, local policymakers, community-based organizations, and to engage with your networks to raise awareness of the resources available to us. Our region is a two-time All-America City Award recipient, which demonstrates our ability to respond to challenges as a united community. Let us recognize the adversity, accept the challenge, and take the opportunities to improve your physical, social, mental, emotional, economic, environmental, and civic health!

For more information or resources, contact Lucy Connery of YNPN Greater Buffalo at (716) 851-4052 or ynpngreaterbflo@gmail.com. Thank you!

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