Each one of us can seize the opportunity to be healthier. The only questions are: will we take the
opportunity and when? Health problems in our community are well known. Whatever the issue, it is too often the case that our community has the most severe negative impact of any serious health indicator. We experience higher stress levels, higher probability of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other maladies.

We delay or may be denied and discouraged from seeking treatment. We may have few resources in obtaining treatment, or we may be afraid to investigate whether or not treatment is necessary.

We do not practice prevention the way we could or should. We may not pursue or use information that may be helpful in preventing serious health problems. We may not engage in good health practices due to lack of education, lack of exposure or lack of care. Resources may simply not be available to provide information, prevention or treatment as needed for members of our community to experience good health. It may seem as if there is little that we can do to impact this situation.

If you really think about this economic crisis and the community’s health, one thing becomes absolutely clear: it is within our power to make a change we need. We are the change that we have been looking for.

Foreclosures, unemployment, and a bleak economic outlook have had a devastating impact on
our aspirations. Each one of us can seize the opportunity to reverse that impact. One chance to seize the opportunity to be healthy comes on “leap day,” Feb. 29, 2012. Dialogue sessions will be conducted throughout Los Angeles in what is formally called “A Day of Dialogue on the Economic Crisis and Community Health.”

Realizing that the opportunity can be seized by each and every one of us, the Brotherhood Crusade, the California Endowment, the California Community Foundation, the United Way, Attucks Asset Management, Cedars-Sinai Health System, Jenesse Center Inc. and others have provided support to conduct this important dialogue throughout
our region.

As we tackle large-scale, intractable problems, like how our economic challenges are impacting our individual and collective health, dialogue is the first step in “getting our heads around” the issues that we face. Discussion guides will focus on what initiatives each individual, group, organization or institution can take to reverse adverse health impacts and to help ourselves, our families and our communities thrive.

Dialogue participants will be able to learn of existing initiatives as well as provide information
for creating new initiatives best designed to meet their needs.

Discussion materials will be widely available to members of the public.

The Brotherhood Crusade is one of a number of agencies that will conduct a public dialogue as part of the Feb. 29 “A Day of Dialogue on the Economic Crisis and Community Health,” from 10 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at their administrative office location, 200 East Slauson Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90011.

Every member of our community is invited to participate. Leap day offers the chance to seize the
opportunity to be healthier. Will you take the first step?

“A Day of Dialogue” is a component of the Institute for Nonviolence in Los Angeles, a project of
Community Partners. Additional information about the full range of public dialogue sessions will be available on the Days of Dialogue website, on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. This leap day seize the opportunity to be healthy and join in! Avis Ridley-Thomas, founder and former director of the Dispute Resolution Program of the Office of the
Los Angeles City Attorney, is co-director of the Institute for Nonviolence in Los Angeles. Her email address is aridley-thomas@daysofdialogue.org.