No matter which initiative the Alliance undertakes — now and in the future — we will always approach our work through the lens of the whole child.
The Alliance began its work by researching the attitudes and beliefs that residents in several Dallas communities have about their health and well-being. Through community write-boards, activity kits and in-depth personal interviews, several key findings surfaced that influenced the Alliance’s initiatives. For starters, we identified five elements of wellness that affect a person’s well-being.
1. Personal Power
Without a sense of power, parents adopt a protective mindset and attempt to limit exposure to stress. They withhold certain responsibilities and key information from their children in honor of childhood. Ultimately, limiting a child’s sense of his or her own ability can stunt their self-efficacy.
2. Balanced Outlook
Without a balanced outlook, parents react to problems as they arise. It’s easier and faster to take care of symptoms rather than look for the root of the problem. Families with a reactive mindset also struggle to make long-term lifestyle changes to address root problems.
3. Sense of Self
Without a strong sense of self, children with health challenges see themselves as “different” from others. This can lead to resignation, where health conditions define who they are and what they are able to achieve.
4. Connected Knowledge
In order to manage health needs effectively, a family has to be able to access information about the condition from a variety of sources, interpret it, make meaning from it, and share that information with others. When knowledge is disconnected, this can lead to mistrust of information and disengagement.
5. System of Support
Parents depend on a diverse support system to provide care for their children. This includes school, after-school programs, community centers and other family members. A limited support system can lead to a child adopting unhealthy habits. It also means they have limited exposure to other people's viewpoints and behaviors. It creates an isolated perspective on life opportunities.
As the Alliance begins its work with asthma and tackles other pressing childhood issues in the future, the solutions we offer will: