Sometimes, we are so inundated with information, that it is hard to know what is actually true and important and what is not. Though facts are essential for making quality decisions, I tend to be more interested in the connections between things than in the statistics themselves. Here is an example.
The Centers for Disease Control report that over 30 percent of Michigan adults are obese. In addition, over 25% of adolescents fall in the overweight and obese categories. We know from extensive research that obesity is not only a threat to physical health but is also linked, especially in teens, to lower self-esteem, poor body image and depression.
Other sources of information (including research by the JohnsHopkinsCenter for a Livable Future and the American Heart Association) tell us that, to address the national problem of obesity, we need to encourage exercise and access to healthy foods.
At the same time, an amazing array of research has recently come out addressing the issue of happiness. HarvardUniversity has followed undergraduate men for 75 years. The 2011 documentary film ‘Happy’ interviewed people from all walks of life in 14 countries. The conclusion across the board is that ‘stuff’ doesn’t make us happy (assuming your actual survival is not at stake.) But what does? The answer seems to be relationships, a sense of belonging among family, friends, and community.
Connections. Between people. Between sources of information. Between our beliefs and our actions. Our health, in all senses of the word, is dependent on making connections.
As a lifelong vegetable farmer, it won’t come as a surprise that I believe one of the best ways of making a connection between both the data and the reality of our lives is through gardening. It’s exercise. It’s good food. And it’s a family and community activity. That’s why the Three Rivers Library has decided to focus some of its teen summer programming on gardening. We’ll be planting three large garden boxes and throughout the summer and fall, teens aged 12 to 18 can participate in care of the garden and cooking activities to use the bounty.
The library is dedicated to a healthy community and to providing a wide variety of resources – written, virtual, and hands-on activities – to help that happen. We hope you’ll join us in making the connections.