Supporting Health and Wellness Charities
There are a number of issues that impact well-being, many of which are beyond the power of individuals to control. And it continues to be the case that even in what is called the wealthiest country in the world, access to healthy food and healthcare are challenges faced by many in the US. A lack of emotional support for many who suffer from myriad diseases and health conditions, such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer, is a reality. And for a variety of reasons, many struggle to develop more healthful lifestyles, often including family members of those with the illnesses. That’s why it’s so important for health and wellness charities to exist.
There is a huge number of different kinds of charities whose missions address some aspect of health and wellness. The ones we’ll discuss are involved with:
- Health Services
- Specific Health Conditions
- Health Policy and Advocacy
- Sports and Fitness
Nutrition charities work to alleviate hunger and/or provide education on healthy eating practices. Foodbanks, mobile food pantries and soup kitchens provide meals and supplemental nutrition to those who can’t afford to buy those things. Other nutrition charities help people to understand how the things they put in their body can have an impact on their health.
Mental health charities focus on what might be considered purely psychological and emotional illness. They offer treatment and/or prevention services to those who lack appropriate health insurance coverage. While some of these programs are partially funded by government, most rely on additional funding from foundation grants and individual donors.
Charities focused on disease conditions generally focus on challenges related to a single disease. Some are dedicated to supporting research to better understand the basic science of that disease, including its prevention and treatment. Others provide support to individuals suffering from that disease, as well as to their caregivers. Still others work to increase access to general healthcare, housing and other resources needed specifically for those with a particular diagnosis. This begins to illustrate the ways in which the mission and work of different kinds of organizations are interwoven.
Health policy and advocacy charities fight for equal access to healthcare. They advocate for patients who need treatment for nearly every condition, working to get them the care they need and cannot otherwise afford. While the donations you make to these charities may not have an immediate impact on an individual’s health today, they have an impact on the way our society will approach healthcare needs tomorrow.
Sports and fitness charities focus on programming for youth, like childhood obesity, camps and exercise programs. Some of them also exist to benefit older people. These programs are typically started by active community members who want to share their passion for a particular sport with children or other people they believe would benefit from the experience. There are also programs that exist to help the disabled to recover some of their mobility and lead a more active and fun life, in spite of their disability.
By making a donation to any of these organizations, you can help improve the health of the community around you. Let’s take a closer look at the way these charities work.
Worldwide, hunger affects 815 million people, which means that nearly 1 in 9 people suffers from hunger and malnutrition. Even in the United States, which is considered the wealthiest nation, 12 percent of the population struggles with hunger, according to Feeding America. Each year in the U.S., more than 40 million people, including 12 million children and 7 million elderly, rely on food banks like the Lakeview Pantry. Hunger affects people in every county of the country, so it may not be surprising that charities involved with hunger alleviation comprise the largest segment of all nutrition-related charities.
A vast network of charities is at work every day to address various aspects of hunger. Those focused on food-recovery and redistribution attempt to prevent food “waste” from going into landfills and, instead, to be used as a safe, nutritious and reliable source of healthy meals. Food “banks” and food “pantries” are the backbone of the supply chain for sourcing vast quantities of both perishable and nonperishable food items for distribution where and how they are needed. In some cases, people are able to go to food pantries in their community. In other cases, mobile food pantries deliver right to people’s homes.
For the homebound and those with mobility challenges due to old age, physical disability and/or lack of access to personal or public transportation, organizations like Meals On Wheels of Northeastern Illinois provide a lifeline with delivery of prepared meals.
Nutrition Awareness and Education
Even when hunger and malnutrition rates are high, large numbers of people suffer from obesity. Some charities focus on the longer term, helping people to make healthier food choices, thereby establishing healthier eating habits that will promote better health throughout their lives. This may be most impactful for our society when those who are assisted in these ways are children.
Purple Asparagus is a nutrition charity that brings nutritious snacks to schools, community events and farmer’s markets to raise awareness about what’s good to put in your body. They also focus on spreading a message of sustainability and the impact of food production and distribution on our planet.
Other nutrition charities, like the American Nutrition Association, focus on nutrition as a core element of culture and healthy living. They also do research and policy advocacy to improve access to professional nutrition services.
Although there is still no comprehensive public health system that all Americans have access to, health services charities provide affordable options for many people living in most communities.
The demand for mental health services is one specialized area that is increasing across the US. There are myriad causes, including increased loneliness and social isolation, as well as economic insecurity. Most people who suffer from a serious mental disorder are not in a position to pay for their treatment, in part because when you are dealing with a mental illness, it’s difficult to maintain a job. Because in this country jobs are so often tied to healthcare coverage, most mentally ill individuals are left to fend for themselves.
Perhaps the most alarming trend in mental health in the U.S. is the increased rate of suicide in recent years. Between 2000 and 2016, suicide increased by 30%, with a 50% increase for girls and women. Hope For The Day is an organization working to prevent suicides through awareness programming and support services.
Providing health services in your community isn’t just about helping those who are ill. It’s also about providing preventative services to people who otherwise couldn’t afford them. Early diagnosis of illness, including mental illness, improves the chances for a good outcome and, because illness prevention is the least expensive approach, it should also be more fully funded.
PrimeCare Community Health is a network of community health centers that serves the residents of Chicago’s West and Northwest sides with eight locations, including Belmont Cragin Health Center, Fullerton Health Center, Hamlin Health Center, Michelini Center for Health, North West Health Center, West Town Oral Health Center, West Town Health Center, and Wicker Park Health Center. It offers a full array of affordable health services, including dental , counseling, and prenatal care. PrimeCare places an emphasis on preventative care through outreach and routine-services events. They host immunization clinics and blood drives to improve their reach. Supporting an organization like PrimeCare helps whole communities get access to quality, affordable healthcare.
Health Policy and Advocacy
Health policy and advocacy charities fight on various governmental levels for individuals’ right to affordable care for patients of all age and income levels. Without advocacy, healthcare will not as effectively improve to meet ever-changing and increasing needs.
That’s why programs such as those of the American Nurses Association are so important. ANA supports nurses nationally with tools and resources they need to better provide for their patients. ANA advocacy activities include sending nurses to Capitol Hill as part of its lobbying for health care. By donating to ANA, you help empower these nurses to share their perspectives with policymakers who can change the way we make healthcare decisions in this country.
Another effective organization advocating for policy reform is the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group (HMPRG). One of the prime areas of focus for HMPRG is advocacy for policy reform in long term care. Too often, older adults lack the means to have adequate care in their retirement years. Your contributions to HMPRG can help to change that.
Sports and Fitness
Activities such as a pick-up game of basketball after work are a great way to exercise. But, for sports and fitness charities, there is a lot more at stake than just a bit of exercise. Many believe that organized sports offer a powerful way to change lives. This exemplifies the interwoven nature of healthcare and social justice. Participation in such activities can provide hope and the tools to overcome adversity in challenging experiences off the field.
Youth Fitness Charities
Youth fitness charities are good for the health of kids and for the larger communities in which they live. Sports programs aid participants to achieve both better physical health and better social health. Participation in sports also fosters reduced rates of childhood obesity. And organized sports so frequently improve participants’ social skills, from simple cooperation, to leadership.
Sports programs can also have a favorable impact on reducing disease in a community, beyond obesity. Because participants often undergo health scans before they can join in, doctors are able to catch health conditions that otherwise might have gone undetected.
Rugby Illinois is a youth league that uses the game to teach children valuable life lessons. Their programs combat juvenile delinquency by encouraging players to stay in school. This organization also introduces rugby to new players whose financial resources might otherwise make their participation in the sport unlikely.
Health and wellness charities play an important role in keeping youth on the right path. Support their mission by donating supplies and funding today.
Sports Charities for the Disabled
Some people like to support sports charities that specifically benefit people with disabilities. The Freedom Golf Association (FGA) gives free golf lessons to the disabled. Their golf clinics help players of all skill levels to improve their game.
FGA also consults to private golf courses, evaluating their operations to suggest ways to make them more accessible to individuals with physical and/or developmental disabilities. By helping courses identify and correct barriers in the clubhouse, the fairway, and even the website and phone system, they help courses become more welcoming and accessible to players with a broad range of disabilities.
Freedom Golf Association also helps the disabled to obtain golf equipment, including clubs that can be adapted for their particular needs. This kind of equipment is typically excessively expensive. By making a donation to Freedom Golf Association and similar charities, you can help open the door for someone who couldn’t otherwise afford to participate in a new sport because of their disability.
In addition to the consulting services discussed above, FGA also acts as a public clearinghouse for course accessibility. This helps courses by giving them a marketing boost and helps consumers who are interested in finding accessible courses.
Supporting health and wellness charities benefits your entire community!
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