Health Assessments: The Key to Unlocking Funds? How to Use Health Assessments to Push for Increased Local Funding and Federal Support

Article excerpt

Your park and recreation department could find the key to unlocking the tight budgets of your community by making a few phone calls. Today, many local health departments are evaluating their communities' quality of life related to health, through assessments. While the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) labels these evaluations HRQOL's (Health Related Quality Of Life), most health departments use some form of these measurements to identity populations most hurt by chronic disease, to strengthen health promotion and to support environmental and policy changes.

The CDC usually tracks these HRQOL outcomes on the state or county level through the Healthy Day's initiative, and the results are helping to reinforce the call to Americans for active lifestyles.

James Marks, director of Prevention and Health Promotion for CDC, stated in a recent issue of "Chronic Disease Notes and Reports," "It is about time we as a society recognize and begin to keep score of this fundamental component of health (Quality of life)." Local park and recreation agencies can strengthen their argument for access to active resources, by utilizing results from local health departments' community health assessments. If a community's health department isn't tracking these outcomes, now is the time to work with them to do so.

Using the quality of life assessment data locally and nationally can advance the case for more investment in active recreation resources and programs. Combining local quality of life needs and results, current data on a community's access to public recreation, and national trends and reports of obesity and physical inactivity has the potential to be where the ground level indicators and the national level proof meets. This convergence of evidence could create the much needed "tipping point" for an outpouring of federal investment to prevent the fastest growing epidemic in America.

On the local level, the data could initiate a concerted effort to direct funds for accessible active recreation resources. On the national level, it gives legislators a clear picture of how national trends are hitting home. This detailed district information can prompt them not only to address the issue, but help them decide bow they should address the issue. …