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HRV Community Conversations: Health Equity in the Roanoke Valley

For most of us, when we think of health, we think of it in terms of just visiting the doctor or dentist. Our health, however, starts much earlier than a visit to see a medical professional; it is impacted by our neighborhoods, our homes, our jobs, even whether or not we have reliable transportation.

Inequities across class, race, and other divides are directly reflected in the health of our community, and in order to build a community where all are empowered to achieve and sustain optimal health, we have to first understand the inequities that exist, and how we can work to support a more just and equitable community.

Earlier this month, we held the first of two sessions of Healthy Roanoke Valley Community Conversations, discussing the topic of Health Equity in the Roanoke Valley. During the session, we screened excerpts from Unnatural Causes, a PBS documentary that addresses the question of whether or not inequality is making us sick. There was great conversation, personal story sharing, and lots of discussions about how health is tied to the distribution of resources, how racism is an added health burden, how chronic stress can be deadly, and how the choices we make are shaped by the choices we have.

There to facilitate the session were Aisha Shillingford and Susan Naimark of Interaction Institute for Social Change with the event made possible by the DentaQuest Foundation.