A year ago, I was honored to present an editorial to The Garden Island to kick off National Men’s Health Week for Kauai and Niihau.
Over the past year, TGI has been an incredible partner in giving prominent visibility to columns designed to build a strong, resilient and healthy community. Let’s face it, this is the most important goal ahead of us and one we must work on each and every day.
Like many of you, I struggle every day to make the best and healthiest choices for my future and my family’s well-being, such as: choosing a healthy meal instead of a fast-food snack, walking instead of driving, and finding quiet moments to reflect and relax. Although it’s a challenge, I am committed to staying on track for a healthier lifestyle.
It bears repeating that, although Hawaii is a relatively healthy state, we have many challenges. Men in Hawaii are less healthy than women in many ways. According to the Hawaii Health Survey of 2010, there is a much greater prevalence of obesity, asthma, diabetes, high blood cholesterol and hypertension among men versus women.
On Kauai, we are fortunate that the State Department of Health and Wilcox Health Systems led a collaborative effort over the past two years to develop a community health needs assessment. This plan certainly addresses how best to provide comprehensive health care for all in our community. More importantly, the plan focuses on how to keep us healthy throughout each stage of our life, so that we don’t need health interventions. From assuring that each and every resident has safe and adequate housing, to creating a built environment that encourages active lifestyles, to making healthy food choices more affordable and convenient; this document has it all. I encourage you to take a moment to review it on our county website: www.kauai.gov/mayor.
Finally, I wanted to share with you two important events coming up that we can all embrace on that road to better health:
The annual Mayor-a-thon – to be held Saturday at Kapaa Beach Park beginning at 8 .m.. We are now in our sixth year and the event keeps getting better and better. Join nearly a thousand residents and visitors from all over Kauai for a brisk morning walk, bike or run along Ke Ala Hele Makalae, followed by fellowship and a healthy continental breakfast. Please join us and sign up in advance by visiting www.getfitkauai.com
Tropic Care 2014 – coming to Kauai June 16-26! This event was so successful in 2012 and we are fortunate that the Department of Health has brought it back for another round. Our goal is to provide up to $10 million in free medical services to residents islandwide, and distribute at least 5,000 pairs of eyeglasses during the 10-day event. The Kauai Bus is free during those dates, so get yourself and your ohana to one of the Tropic Care clinics. For more information on Tropic Care, call (808) 241-3555.
As with anything in life, success is most often achieved when we work together as a team. While we each must take individual responsibility for our personal health choices, building a healthy and vibrant community depends on collaboration and the support that we receive from and offer to those around us.
Remember: “A‘ohe hana nui ke alu ‘ia” – No task is too big when done together by all.
• Bernard P. Carvalho, Jr. is the mayor of Kauai.