(This is article is a continuation of a two-part outreach series. Read the first installment here.)
Atlanta Pride Weekend kicked off its 47th year on Friday, October 13 with multiple events around the city. Not surprisingly, Atlanta Pride is the largest Pride event in the southeast and falls the weekend after National Coming Out Day. Sunday’s Pride Parade boasted over 250,000 attendees making it the largest Atlanta Pride Parade thus far. It goes without saying that all the vacation rentals in Atlanta were all booked up well in advance. A record 35 elected officials and/or political candidates participated as well (ICYMI – it’s an election year).
What I’d really like to underscore with these staggering numbers is that due to the overwhelming number of survey responses collected during the weekend, it will take a bit more time to compile the results I promised this month.
In the meantime, the responses I have seen indicate a common thematic answer for the three questions:
- How would you solve homelessness in Atlanta?
- How do we end HIV/AIDS?
- What issue (other than HIV or homelessness) do you believe is the biggest issue facing the city of Atlanta right now?
Many respondents pointed toward a lack of education as the underlying barrier to addressing issues of housing, HIV/AIDS, and others faced by the City of Atlanta. To alleviate homelessness in Atlanta, many believe that providing better job training and public education is the key. Similarly, respondents answered that increased sexual education in schools will help end HIV/AIDS. Finally, access to education and higher quality public education were seen as a couple of Atlanta’s other greatest issues.
To alleviate homelessness in Atlanta, many believe that providing better job training and public education is the key.
While this is by no means a scientific study, I do think this pattern tells the story of a prominent issue across the United States. Let me begin by positing that in order to combat diseases and national epidemics, it is necessary to focus on more than healthcare systems. Studies have shown that communities most successfully improve overall health by changing aspects of the physical, social, organizational, and even political environments in order to eliminate or reduce risk factors. Community education based programs and strategies can be used to reach members of society outside of traditional health care settings.
Education may turn out not be the most popular response for each question in our particular survey, but evidence suggests it is definitely key in solving Atlanta’s biggest concerns. Yet, if so many already believe that this a huge part of the solution, why isn’t community education more popular and wide-spread?
I believe that the old adage, “Easier said than done,” is the main culprit behind the lack of large scale implementation, but I am curious to hear what you think might be standing in the way of educating more of the population. Additionally, I’d love to hear feedback on some ways you’ve helped or seen someone help educate the community on public health issues.