Wednesday, April 06, 2016

National Walking Day

Sometimes change is small, but sometimes it’s easy.  

I never used to be so aware of the micro inequities that exist in our society.  I knew that some people had it easier than others, but I just accepted the fact, maybe life isn’t fair.
Thanks to public health, now I’m aware of every inequity.  But I also can name it.  That’s why when something like National Walking Day came across my desk, I couldn’t help but think what a (ridiculous) archaic, ableist event to be a part of National Public Health Week.  Ok, I get that it has good intentions, and everyone needs to think about physical activity but what a way to blatantly exclude and diminish, those individuals who might get around in a way that is different than most people.
When I saw the announcement for the events around National Walking Day that our state health department was putting on, I became my angry advocate self.  I bitched about it on social media for a bit, and then, I switched into real advocate mode and I TOOK ACTION.  I went down the hall to the office of my dear friend who spent some time as the director of health equity, and I said, “Tell me.  Am I completely over-reacting, or can we do something about this?” 

She asked me what I thought we should do to make it more inclusive, or if I thought we should cancel it all together.  While in the grand scheme of things I think the day should be completely rebranded and I despise the platform sitting is the new smoking, I said, “I think even just adding a sentence welcoming all abilities would make a huge difference.”  She advised me to draft an amendment to the announcement and who I should send it to.  So I did. And then I procrastinated.  I started to talk myself out of it and feel ultimately defeated by the system because it was just one of those days. 

Then on National Walking Day Eve, I decided to put my big girl pants on (which happen to be pink Aeropostale sweatpants, in case anyone was wondering) and I sent an email, with my attached amendment.  I said that as the state health department we should always be viewing things through a health equity lens and think about making our wellness opportunities FEEL welcoming to all Coloradans.  Within the hour my thoughts were validated that I was 100% correct and they would include my language in the next day’s announcement.

This morning, after the announcement went out, the person who sends it, who also is the director of wellness and physical activity or something, wrote to me, and said “That is such great language, do you mind if we share it with our partners at the American Heart Association?”  Um.  K.
I know that I will not get credit for writing one sentence that will be used nationally, but it makes me happy to know that I have shifted some perspectives and maybe started a movement at least within our department, and hopefully people will see me as a “resource” and someone they can turn to to make sure all communications sound inclusive, and all of our people can be given opportunities to improve their health and wellness.
And there you have it.  I did a thing.

Happy National Walking Day all.  However you may choose to celebrate it.