Healthy Cities has a challenge for you this September. At the very least, they have the discussion topic for your next dinner party.

A collection of invested community members are advocating for the improvement of health on the Northeast Avalon, by bringing the hot button issue to the top of the proverbial food pyramid – the government.

Healthy Cities is the result of a beautiful partnership – Happy City St. John’s has a soap box, while Healthy Cities and their “My Healthy Avalon” campaign has a message.

So what exactly is Healthy Cities’ Bruce Knox, and the Healthy Cities crew, getting at with this month long campaign? “We want to bring health to the table, literally,” Knox said. “We’re not trying to define health. Our goal is to engage people and communities to share what they need to live healthy lives,” Knox said. “We want to give citizens of the Northeast Avalon a voice to share what changes they’d like to see to promote health and wellness.”

Knox wants you, your friends, your family, and basically anyone you know to get together during September, presumably over a nice hearty meal, to talk about how to improve the health of our province. The next step is to share those ideas with Healthy Cities, so they can use “home-grown solutions” to help fix up this province.

And lord knows we couldn’t use the kick in the pants.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information’s most recent statistics, 30.4% of the province’s population are obese, 25.4% of us are heavy drinkers, 21.7% are smokers – all above the national average.

We’re also doing better (read: worse) than the rest of Canada in stellar categories like Hospitalized Heart Attacks, Hospitalized Strokes, and Avoidable Deaths From Preventable Causes. We fall below the national average in categories such as Physical Activity During Leisure Time, Life Expectancy at Birth, and Life Expectancy at Age 65. Go us?

What is wrong with this us, anyway? I asked Knox point blank. “If only we had the answer,” Knox said, noting that the answer would be multifactorial. “Of course, we know that genetics do play a role in the province, but it’s about addressing the basic needs in order to live well. There’s no one solution and it’s not just about eating well and exercising,” he said.

Housing; education; income security; food insecurity; social safety networks, and ethnic background – these are just some of the many determinants of social health. “Host a potluck and reach out to us via email (healthyavalon@gmail. com), or visit our Facebook page (facebook. com/HealthyAvalon) and we will connect you with details on how you can share your ideas on improving health on the Avalon,” Knox said.

“We are encouraging people to engage with us on social media by sharing pictures or quotes from their conversations using #myhealthyavalon.” The group plans to compile all the ideas into a report, to be shared with decision-makers.

You heard the man. Go steam some veggies and kindly explain to Nan why she needs to lay down the salt shaker – for the sake of the grandkids, the great-grandkids, and so forth.