Monday, August 9, 2010

My Moment at the Podium

So I missed the Mayoral Forum at St. Elizabeth's today. Did they ever discuss health? But if I were there, I would have brought up the embarrassing medical, food, fitness and environmental conditions facing the youth of Wards 7 and 8.

I recently read a disturbing report by Center for Health and Health Care in Schools where Anacostia youth were sent on a Secret Shopper mission to learn about 7 Health Clinics in Southeast. The teens would call or visit seeking basic health services, such as STD testing, a doctor's appointment, or access by mass transportation, only to be put on hold for 60-90 minutes or told they could not be seen because they didn't have a doctor's referral.

This comes at no surprise, but what is more disturbing is that there seems to be a cloud of apathy hovering among the constituents who continue to vote in political figures who donate money to imaginary social organizations. By the way, I still haven't heard a peep from the Ward 8 Health Council??

The state of health services for youth living East of the River is deplorable. We cannot even begin to address cleaning up the Anacostia River or building new restaurants if the youth who work behind the register can't even get to a doctor's appointment.

The outcry to improve health among residents in Southeast must start with the collective community of Southeast placing pressure on councilmembers to use their money and power for health programs that actually work. (Greater Southeast Hospital, Metro Teen AIDS, Whitman Walker Clinic, HEAT Haven, Groundwork Anacostia or the new DC Is Building Green Bridges, just to name a few.)

I am convinced that if we address the overall health of southeast, we will naturally see a change in other aspects of our neighborhood.

..Stepping away from the podium and walking to the voting booth.

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