One of the primary roles of the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) is to gather community input surrounding access to care, perceived and present barriers to health, areas of need, etc. It is for this purpose that the Community Input Committee, a sub-committee of the CAC, facilitates a number of listening sessions in the community to gain more insight into the lives and day-to-day concerns of citizens in the arena of health care and healthy living.
In November 2015, the Community Input Committee conducted two listening sessions with youth in the Health Care Foundation service area. Directors met with one group of high school students in Archie, Missouri, a rural site, and one group at F.L. Schlagle High School in Kansas City, Kansas, an urban site.
We were pleased with the participation of community youth in our focus groups. A total of 26 young people participated in sessions held in the two locations.
These are the themes that emerged from the discussions:
- Students had a whole-person view of health.
- They had a strong emphasis on staying healthy through healthy eating and active living.
- They felt there were a variety of trusted sources to go to for health information but also felt that they could use more and better education about prevention and health. One student said, “People shouldn’t rely on TV too much.”
- Many discussed the issue of affordability and the choices their families made related to access of health care services. All discussed health-related problem solving before seeking professional advice. Several mentioned that when professional advice was needed, families had real issues with affordability and access.
- “If something just hurts for a while, we try to tough it out. When the pain continues for a while, that’s when we will go to a doctor or dentist.”
- “I make sure that my mom takes me to the dentist. My mom has cancelled appointments, but I call and reschedule them”
- They discussed the challenges related to mental health because of resistance to talking about issues and access to resources.
- They also spoke about access to a built environment that supports healthy activity and the need for easy access to healthy foods.
- “Get us a grocery store, pharmacy, and restaurants that serve healthier food.”
The Community Input Committee plans to conduct listening sessions with senior citizens in the near future.