A message to our WeTHRIVE! communities

More than ten years ago, we asked you to imagine a community where wellness is the rule rather than the exception. Where children walk to school on safe sidewalks. Convenience store windows promote fresh produce instead of beer and cigarettes. Friends meet after work to walk at the park. Families tend plots in the community garden, sharing the harvest with those in need.

Communities, churches, and schools, led by residents and elected officials, answered our call. You came together under WeTHRIVE! – a community-led initiative set on making wellness a reality for every person in Hamilton County.

Back then, we recognized that certain communities face true and long-standing barriers to achieving this reality. After all, WeTHRIVE! was born under the belief that health, safety, and vitality should not be determined by your ZIP code.

What we did not say then, but we are saying today, is that these barriers include racism. Racism reflected in the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and too many other victims of color. And racism manifested in health disparities that represent nothing less than a national public health crisis.

We often say that place matters when it comes to health. The fact is that place and race are intertwined in Hamilton County, with our Black communities tending to make up those ZIP codes where life expectancy is unacceptably lower than other areas. Clearly, when it comes to health, place AND race matter.

WeTHRIVE! is committed to fighting these injustices.

To our predominantly Black WeTHRIVE! communities, we know the pain is more than you can bear. We know that you have struggled with these issues for generations. We hear you. We see you. We love you. And we stand with you.

Over the past ten years, you have become our partners. You have shown us what it means to be committed to community, to work for the common good, to never give up. It’s time for us to step up.

Our WeTHRIVE! team at Hamilton County Public Health pledges to be an ally to our communities of color (whether a school, child care provider, or municipality). We pledge to listen, learn, and do the work, even when it is uncomfortable.

We will:

  • Work for policy, systems, and environmental changes that eliminate health disparities in communities of color and bring an end to systemic racism.
  • Build partnerships with organizations that fight racism.
  • Encourage our partners and other organizations to recognize racism as a public health crisis.

We invite our other WeTHRIVE! communities to join us. These resources are a good place to start.

WeTHRIVE!’s mission is to create a culture of health, safety, and vitality throughout Hamilton County. Our communities, schools, child care providers, and partners cannot THRIVE until the barrier of racism is torn down.

Your WeTHRIVE! Team:

Mary Ellen Knaebel
Andrea Liptak
Dominique Walker
Hollis Bass
Kim Chelf
Cristie Iwasko
Brittani Schwab
Karen Schwamberger