Good morning Reading. Good morning Friends of Reading. It’s a new day.
This message is the first of what we hope will be a string of conversations that continue well into the future – perhaps 25 or 50 years. Our conversations will be about life and health in our beloved City of Reading, PA, nestled in the beautiful landscapes of Berks County. We’ll touch from time to time on its rich past, from its beginning as Finney’s Forge and the first efforts at “City” planning way back in 1743. But we’ll focus far more on the present and the future because these are the years in which we all have the important task of reshaping lives.
We’ll have time on other days to speak about Reading’s many challenges. But we’ll single out the one that touches most of us directly. That’s the challenge of poor health. We are setting out today to combat the issue of poor health in our city. Let’s face it, generally speaking we are not a healthy community and it’s taking a toll in many ways. Poor health affects our daily lives. It’s disruptive to our families, interrupts what should be the gleeful years of childhood, affects how long we live, and costs us money. In Reading alone, one in five residents suffer from diabetes, 40% have high blood pressure, and 35% are categorized as obese. (Berks County Health Needs Assessment, 2013)
So, our mission is to improve health in our city. We’ll take on that challenge by improving our nutrition and increasing our physical activity. There is an incredible amount we’ll need to learn and know to do that. We hope you’ll frequently visit our website to learn about national and local resources, helpful suggestions, and step-by-step approaches to improving our health. Come to our site to be inspired, encouraged, and supported. Come to join our conversations and to share your stories and ideas.
Who is the ‘we’ I keep mentioning? Right now, ‘we’ is a group of students and a handful of community leaders who love Reading and desire everyone in our city to enjoy life, health, well- being, and joyful families. ‘We’ needs to include you, residents in our town, problem solvers, creative thinkers, loving moms and dads, civic leaders, teachers, students, business owners—everyone working together.
We chose the name ‘Be Bold, Take Charge’ because this is an effort to empower everyone to rise up as agents of change. If you find yourself often asking, ‘What’s the use?’ this is a call to you to Be Bold, and embrace the challenge to improve health in your lives and in your community. There’s a lot to this–it certainly isn’t a simple task. Yet, as you walk through our site, you’ll see we’re ready to take on the significant roadblocks that stand in the way – food access, the economy, crime, and education. It’s daunting, yet exciting, because working together we can make this happen.
As we chose words for this very first conversation with you, we thought of the inspiring words by Cristina Saralegui, a Latina credited for her efforts to change the world. Referred to by some as the Latina Oprah, Ms. Saralegui inspired and motivated through her long-running, self-titled Univision show. She ended each episode with the Cuban phrase ‘Pa’lante, pa’lante, pa’tras ni pa’ coger impulso’ (Move forward and never look back). Let’s all join together to take on this challenge. Let’s move forward and never look back. Be Bold, Take Charge, Discover the Great Feeling of Healthy.