March 7th is Town Meeting Day! According to the Vermont Secretary of State’s website, which makes us pretty unique! Here in New England, town meetings happen every year on the first Tuesday in March and apparently, that form of government exists nowhere else in the world outside of New England. This allows all citizens to take part in conversations, lawmaking, and true government by the community. When you think of this unique kind of local government and community, you might not think about the impacts it has on the health and wellness of the community, but it does! Here’s how your vote counts!
All of us benefit from public health infrastructures. From the roads we travel to the schools that educate us, our sewer and water treatment facilities, fire, and emergency response teams, and so much more! When we see a ballot for budgets or names of positions, we may think they are formalities or unnecessary items, we might just be forgetting how important these items are to all of us.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has been working to help our communities start to identify the key areas that can have the greatest impacts on the health of the community. Collaborating with community leaders and public health experts, they took all the data and came up with the 10 Essential Public Health Services (EPHS). The 10 EPHS are designed to help and support all types of communities, removing the systemic and structural barriers that often lead to health inequities. The 10 EPHS are designed for equity in communities that may or may not be faced with barriers of bias, discrimination, and/or injustices. They include:
- Assess and monitor population health status, factors that influence health, and community needs and assets.
- Investigate, diagnose, and address health problems and hazards affecting the population.
- Communicate effectively to inform and educate people about health, factors that influence it, and how to improve it.
- Strengthen, support, and mobilize communities and partnerships to improve health.
- Create, champion, and implement policies, plans, and laws that impact health.
- Utilize legal and regulatory actions designed to improve and protect the public’s health.
- Assure an effective system that enables equitable access to the individual services and care needed to be healthy.
- Build and support a diverse and skilled public health workforce.
- Improve and innovate public health functions through ongoing evaluation, research, and continuous quality improvement.
- Build and maintain a strong organizational infrastructure for public health.
To support these, we need strong servants in our communities and beyond and each of us can help! When we consider the health and well-being of our most vulnerable including children, the elderly, those who face bias and/or discrimination, and on top of that, all our basic needs, such as safe streets, access to clean water and food, strong schools, emergency support, etc. these are important matters to all our health. By casting a vote for mayor, city council, school board, legislators, all the way up to our President, we get to add our voice.
Perhaps you already voted today or have never voted before. Maybe you never thought about why a budget seemed too high or how a city officer would need certain skills and today got you thinking, which is great! That means we are still learning, and learning is healthy too. If you aren’t a registered voter, you still can be and it’s free! Visit your town clerk for details or go to https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote for details!
Vermont isn’t only unique for its town meeting days! In 2022, Vermont was ranked as the 4th healthiest state, (down from #1 in 2019) which means we are doing a lot of things right! It certainly takes a community to be as healthy as possible. Together we can work together to build an even stronger community that welcomes all, supports all, and encourages everyone to live as healthy and well as possible. Some of this is made possible because of how we vote, so there you have it! Voting is good for you!
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, February 24). CDC – 10 essential public health services – CSTLTS. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved March 1, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/publichealthgateway/publichealthservices/essentialhealthservices.html
Director Of The Wellness Center