I was recently reminded of a wonderful quote from Alice in Wonderland this past weekend as I watched Tim Burton's version of Lewis Carroll's fanciful book.
Alice laughed. "There's no use trying", she said. "One can't believe impossible things." "I daresay you haven't had much practice, " said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it half an hour a day. Why, sometimes, I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
In public health it is easy to get discouraged by the unending challenges and become like Alice in our thinking. We start behaving as though it is our job to simply maintain the status quo. When we stop believing in impossible things, mediocrity becomes the norm and our communities suffer. I would like to challenge all organizations and individuals in Louisville who are dedicated to improving the health of our city to make a list of "6 Impossible Public Health Things" that you will believe in the coming months.
Here's my list:
1. All Louisvillians will maintain a healthy weight through access to healthy affordable food, improved infrastructure that supports physical activity, and public policies that discourage unhealthy choices.
2. All new mothers will be supported in their decision to breastfeed through education, social acceptance, and access to public areas that allow and encourage breastfeeding.
3. Air and water quality will improve due to increased public transportation use, improved infrastructure, public policies that encourage responsible land use and social acceptance of alternative forms of energy.
4. Our schools will become models of healthy environments through policies to improve school lunches, eliminate vending machines, improve infrastructure and safety around schools and increase time devoted to physical activity.
5. Organizations will work together to improve the effectiveness of their initiatives. Coalitions and partnerships will ensure that resources are used wisely and organizations will feel comfortable sharing resources and information.
6. Evidence-based programming will become the standard for all organizations and policy initiatives. Organizations will understand the importance of program sustainability and will build evaluation activities into all programs to ensure continuous improvement.
When enough people believe and exert their creativity and energy into effective actions then the once impossible thing becomes reality. Join us in believing. Join us in acting on those beliefs.
Please share your 6 "Impossible" Things with us.