Homer Alaska - Letters

Story last updated at 4:41 PM on Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Keep those ideas coming




I have just finished reading 53 pages of local comments from the latest MAPP "Community Strengths and Themes" survey results. Maybe you are tired of these surveys, but they can serve to tell us the pulse of our community. They are a way to hear what people are thinking and feeling. MAPP stands for "Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnership" -- it's a process for community wide, community driven health improvement. Put simply, here on the southern peninsula it is a group of organizations and interested individuals working together to improve community health. Our local public health system consists of all of us -- and it takes all of us to create a vision for our community and to make it happen.

MAPP consists of anyone who lives, works, and plays on the Southern Kenai Peninsula, from Ninilchik south and across the bay to the villages, and welcomes anyone who wants to weigh in on our strengths, assets and the issues we face. Many people have joined in this process that began in November 2008, and there are many community actions that have already resulted from the first surveys, conducted in 2009.

Some of those include: 21 People's Gardens on the southern peninsula, the Homer Prevention Project, and lots of baseline data collected on issues people identified in 2009, like obesity and youth risk/resilience. There is increased collaboration between organizations that people said work too much in "silos." Thank you for giving us your input to make these big changes. (There are many more you can hear about by calling Megan at 235-0570 or any Steering Group member, listed on the website).

Thank you to the more than 1,100 residents who have contributed and given extra input on the write-in questions of our recent survey, to express both your love and concern for our community. MAPP seeks to understand both, so that efforts can be meaningful, target effective actions and identify measurable outcomes. I am heartened by the many survey responses, and I encourage anyone who lives here, works here, holds a leadership position, or who wants not to feel alone, to read the many heartfelt responses community members offered in this recent MAPP survey.

Next, we continue with key informant interviews and hard data collection. We will explore how community perceptions match the hard data that exists. Later this year, we will compile all of that and see where it overlaps, to again identify common themes in this second community health assessment. As we go forward, all of these results are available on the website, www.MAPPofSKP.net.

There is so much to celebrate on the southern Kenai Peninsula -- by building on these many strengths, we can improve community health -- defined broadly in MAPP to include physical, emotional, cultural, environmental, educational and spiritual health. Thank you, residents, for getting involved, and please keep your ideas coming.

Sharon Whytal, RN

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