When former First Lady of Colorado Jeannie Ritter saw the Kaiser Permanente Center For Total Health interactive wall that featured what her home city of Denver is doing to improve mental health issues, she was quite moved. “The Total Health interactive wall was like stepping right into any community—getting an up close perspective of not only the challenges that may exist across our country, but more importantly, the real strengths that many communities have put in place for themselves.”
Ritter now serves as Mental Health Ambassador for the Mental Health Center of Denver, which believes everyone should have the supports they need to live, work, learn and participate fully in their community. “In order to really flourish, we support the whole health and wellbeing for folks in the community,” said Ritter. “Being highlighted on the interactive wall demonstrates to the millions of visitors to the Total Health display this valuable concept of integrated health.”
Located in Washington, DC and titled Total Health Across America, the 90-foot long, 10-foot high interactive touch-wall features a dozen cities, each one focused on a different aspect of health. In the San Francisco section, for example, visitors start with trivia related to workers in the shipyards of the Oakland/Bay Area and then learn more about modern day workforce health issues.
The Community Commons Vulnerable Populations Footprint maps then add another layer to the experience by showing visitors where populations in San Francisco and Oakland may be experiencing health disparities, and allowing the visitors to orient the maps to their own communities to compare.
“Too often in health and healthcare in America, we know that geography is destiny. We have to change that. We have to give everybody their best chance in life.” –Lisa Simpson, Academy Health, stated in a video on the Total Health wall.
Other cities and issues featured include physical activity in Atlanta, telehealth in Honolulu, urban agriculture in Detroit, and health research in Cincinnati. “Our visitors appreciate the broad range of topics and the ability to personalize their experience,” said Keith Montgomery, Executive Director of the Center for Total Health. “On the maps in particular, they can zoom into their own hometown and better understand some of the health challenges their community faces.”
Montgomery noted that the maps used to time-out after two minutes but the center had to remove the time cap because visitors were spending close to 10 minutes exploring each map. “The maps have increased significantly the level of interaction by our guests,” he stated.
The Center for Total Health’s Medical Director, Ted Eytan, MD, frequently uses the wall to help orient conference attendees and health care leaders from across the nation on the issues facing residents of DC and how that relates to their own community work. He recently guided a walk with a Designing Healthier Communities group that included architects, real estate developers, people from the design industry, and community health organizations. The walk was planned using the Vulnerable Populations Footprint map so that participants could visit places that were challenged with health issues and then generate ideas to facilitate improvements.
You can explore the Vulnerable Populations Footprint map right here! Simply click on the map below and then enter a location to get started. The map can then be exported, shared, saved or layered with other community health data. This is just one of the Community Commons tools you can use to create lasting change in your area. Get started!