Once Health Leads volunteers start working with patients, they quickly learn that health is dependent on many factors. Living conditions and neighborhoods impact health as much as genetics. Health disparities between neighborhoods are apparent throughout much of Boston and are especially acute in some neighborhoods, including many served by Health Leads volunteers.
The Wellness Trail, created by the Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute, visually represents many of the health issues in neighborhoods across the city. Roxbury, for instance, has the highest rate of asthma-related hospitalizations for children under the age of five. It also has the highest rate of heart disease among adults. In neighboring Dorchester, one-third of all adults are obese, a full 10 percent higher than the Boston average. And over a quarter of residents have also been diagnosed with high blood pressure.
Health Leads staff and volunteers partner with The Dimock Center in Roxbury andCodman Square Health Center in Dorchester to help alleviate these disparities by connecting families to community resources. The Wellness Trail is another resource for families, which links to maps indicating locations of healthy food options and parks in their neighborhoods. Additionally, it asks that community residents take action and be an advocate for their neighborhood. Take a minute now to educate yourself on how healthy your own Boston neighborhood is, and learn what you can do to make it even healthier.
By Monica Sawhney, Boston Development Coordinator