Willie Mae Samuel

Willie Mae Samuel, founder and director of the African American Connection for the Performing Arts in Rome

As was stated in the October article titled “Stop the Sickness,” everyone can play a part in stopping the sickness. Most of us are quite aware that particular regions and areas are healthier and will probably allow one to live longer. Breathing clean air and living in an area that is considered a low stress zone are factors that will add longevity to the lives of the individuals who live there.

While obesity and diet are risk factors, so is poverty. People in the lowest income brackets are at least twice as likely to become diabetic as those in the highest. It costs much more to eat and live healthy. The stress of living in poverty is compounded by a history of cultural, economic and physical loss, and researchers believe all of the above factors magnify its impact on life expectancy.

Is there anything that can be done to increase the life expectancy of residents in our local community?

The Rome News-Tribune article titled “Where Northwest Georgians live longer” pointed out facts that will answer the question with a resounding, “Yes, we can all play an important part in stopping the sickness.” All individuals who are aware that the environment plays an important role in our lives would readily admit that we are seriously impacted by culture, economics and heredity. When the residents, government agencies, local officials, foundations and private businesses work together and take health into account, a county, state and country can become healthier and live longer.

As Harvard’s David Williams reminds us, “Housing policy is health policy. Neighborhood improvement policies are health policies. Everything that we can do to improve the quality of life for individuals in our society has an impact on their health and is a health policy.”

According to limited research done for the aforementioned article, the average life expectancy in Cave Spring is 74.3, compared to 80.7 in Coosa. That is a seriously great spread. The difference is wide enough to call for some action to be taken to find out what the difference is and what can be done to improve the culture of health in these areas.

Are health and wealth connected? How does that compare in these two areas? Is medical care as available for residents of Cave Spring? Is the water supply the same? Is the Cave Spring group able to get fresh fruit and vegetables as conveniently as the Coosa residents? How much diversity is there in both areas? If not, what is the difference?

Sometimes, we can look back and examine particular situations and move forward from there based on our findings. In a previous article, I mentioned the fact that there is something for us to learn from the past. In one article I reported that recent Mexican immigrants, although poorer, tend to be healthier than the average American. They have lower rates of death, heart disease, cancer and other illnesses, despite being less educated, earning less and having the stress of adapting to a new country and a new language. Taking a look at this would seem to prove that wealth and health are not interwoven. Now on the other hand, after they have been here for a while, they begin to get cancer, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and other illnesses. What are the other factors in the American culture/environment that could account for this to develop? This is also true of Africans who come here to be a part of the community.

Where is the toxicity coming from? What is it? Why is it? Can unnatural causes make us sick?

Willie Mae Samuel is a playwright and a director in Rome.

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