Monday, November 11, 2013


I have been reading about work on the Columbia Association's first Health and Wellness Center. It seems to me that the primary focus of the health and wellness concept is balance. Rather than treating our problems with a prescription medication, or responding by piling on more exercise routines, this is an approach that looks at the big picture.

Definitions of wellness are rooted in two main concepts: awareness and personal responsibility, and the view that wellness is "...a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." - (The World Health Organization.)

So wellness exists in a healthy balance of physical, mental, and social well-being. And the pursuit of wellness begins in awareness and personal responsibility. Awareness, and balance.

Recent blog posts by Bill Santos of Columbia Compass, and Bill Woodcock of The 53 have examined the growing imbalance between certain demographic groups in Columbia. While the Columbia Association notes our aging population, and plans ahead for their needs, another part of the picture is slipping away: families.

Though some would try to make this an example of generational warfare, it is far from it. The health and wellness of Columbia, indeed, its very survival, depend on a balance of inhabitants: young, old, middle aged, single, married, families with children. This is the balance that will support our schools, businesses, arts institutions, foster community involvement, sustain our infrastructure, and build for tomorrow.

I strongly endorse Ian Kennedy's proposal for a Family Advisory Committee. He states, "The advisory committee structure has been used to great impact in the past, and I believe it can be a way to start addressing and institutionalizing the growing concerns about the dearth of households with children in Columbia."

The beginning of wellness is awareness: we see what is out of balance. Then we acknowledge our personal responsibility to actively restore balance. The creation of a Family Advisory Committee and participation by citizens who value Columbia and its "promise of diversity" will begin a crucial outreach to a valuable group within our community whose voice is often muted by the demands of work, home maintenance, and childcare.

Speaking to the creation of the Health and Wellness facility, Rob Goldman, Vice President / Principal Manager for the Operations Service Bureau, said,"We’re providing the community with what community members told us they wanted,” There is no doubt that the Columbia Association works hard to respond to residents and cares about what they--we--want.

Well, I want to see the voices of families added into the mix of what makes a healthy Columbia--for today, and for the future. If you agree with me, please write and let CA know what you want.



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