A Conversation on Community Health: Recommended Viewing

Oct 1, 2012, 12:44 PM


Last week The Atlantic hosted a town hall event to discuss what’s being done—and what more should be done—to cultivate a healthy community in Philadelphia, though the discussion had implications for public health in communities across the country.

"A Conversation on Community Health" (underwritten by GlaxoSmithKline) featured entertainer and activist Dr. Bill Cosby and Dr. Alvin Poussaint, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. The two co-wrote “Come on, People: On the Path from Victims to Victors,” which analyzed the state of African-Americans and discussed how they—and others—can overcome deep-rooted community and cultural challenges.

Poussaint also worked closely with Cosby on the hit 1980’s television program The Cosby Show, helping with the scripts to ensure they eliminated stereotypes, emphasized education and promoted an overall positive message.

Both agreed this emphasis on making sure positive messages reached kids early in life was a major factor in success later in life. Poussaint stressed the importance of education, saying a good education improved everything from nutrition to overall life expectancy, while decreasing the chance of incarceration. [View our INFOGRAPHIC on the connection between better education and healthier lives.] He also spoke on how parents and schools can work together to ensure kids, even before they’re in preschool, become literate on good health and nutrition. These young lessons can turn into life-long, positive habits.

Whatever communities are already doing to improve public health, or what programs and assistance they add in the future, it’s vital that people do everything they can to make sure their fellow community members know what resources are available, according to Cosby.

“We’ve got to find people in the neighborhoods who will go out, knock on doors, in church—get the word out,” said Cosby.

The town hall also featured Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor for KYW News Radio; Dr. Irwin Redlener, MD, President and Co-Founder, Children's Health Fund; Dr. Robert Simmons, DrPH, Director of Public Health Programs, Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals; Sarah Martinez-Helfman, Executive Director of Eagles Youth Partnership; and Steve Clemons, Editor-in-Chief, AtlanticLIVE, and Washington Editor-at-Large, The Atlantic.

>>See more on "A Conversation on Community Health."

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.