In early March, I went to the National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C. I attended informational workshops that were engaging. I networked with people from Nebraska and beyond. I met with Senate representatives to promote bicycling and its financial, environmental, and health benefits. I did a little sightseeing . . . It was an amazing experience, but the main thing I took away from it didn’t come from Capitol Hill, it came straight from Buffalo County.
I realized how many communities across the nation don’t have organizations like Buffalo County Community Partners watching over their residents’ health interests. They don’t have an Activate Buffalo County coalition to give them active living and healthy eating resources, and to inform them about active programs and events. They don’t have a Positive Pressure coalition working to reduce underage drinking and drug use and give parents tools to keep their children safe. They don’t have a Health HUB that gives vulnerable members of the community access to health care resources.
We have all that and more. We are ahead of the curve. Now, we just need to get everyone in the community to utilize these resources. We need to spread the word. We need to advocate. We need to live the healthy lives we want everyone to be able to live. When we make individual changes, that is what determines our community’s future. By biking to work, we act as an example to the entire community. By choosing not to drink and drive, we put that conversation on the table.
I went to Washington, D.C., hoping to learn a lot about how this country works and how change happens. I expected to see a process, and I did, but what I didn’t expect to find was a loophole in the process, a simple way to make change on our own. The best way for us to change our community is to live the change we want, to advocate for healthy, richer lives, and to enjoy the wonderful tools our community has. Buffalo County really is a model for the rest of America. Let’s show them what healthy change is.