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The building blocks for a good quality of life
United Way of Miami-Dade’s Community Plan works in three key areas — education, financial stability and health — the building blocks for a good quality of life. We ask the tough questions and listen to the specific needs of our community.
Then, we work with volunteers – people just like you – as well as community experts to outline the best way to address those needs in several ways. These are some of milestones that the United Way of Miami-Dade has accomplished in those three key areas for our community.
- May 1, 2014 – April 30, 2015, United Way’s partnership with FAMILYWIZE saved families $1,991,953 on prescription drugs.
- Nearly $10 million saved by 137,228 local families since FAMILYWIZE’S inception in 2007.
- Close to 10,000 individuals including children, received dental, breast, HIV/AIDS and heart screenings through United Way-funded programs.
- 9,430 older adults were provided with community-based home health care, personal care, emergency and basic care services that allowed them to remain living independently.
- 11,154 seniors received nutritious meals.
- 70% maintained or improved their nutritional risk status. This investment is especially important because each United Way dollar invested in local programs receives a 9:1 Federal match.
Why is this component important?
- Preventing poor health is a chief concern for any community. Healthy lifestyles that
include maintenance of a healthy weight, physical activity, healthy eating, not smoking,
not drinking excessively, and safe sexual behaviors can prevent illness and disease or
lessen their negative effects. For example, healthy lifestyles can prevent chronic
diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, asthma, or diabetes, which currently
account for 60 percent of annual deaths in Miami-Dade County. The behaviors and
habits of individuals can be difficult to change. However, many opportunities exist to
promote and support healthy lifestyles. Doing so could result in tremendous cost-savings
at the local, state and national levels.
- Obesity rates in the U.S. have nearly doubled in the last decade. Locally, obesity affects
10 percent of middle schools students, 15 percent of high school students, and 30
percent of adults.
- Miami-Dade County teens eat fewer fruits and vegetables compared to Florida and the
U.S., and the trend is getting worse.
- More than half of Miami-Dade County’s high-school students do not attend physical
education classes. Nearly 40 percent watch TV at least 3 hours a day and nearly 40
percent use computers at least 3 hours a day.
- Alcohol use among local youth has dropped to a historic low. Still, in 2012, about 4
percent of eighth-graders said they had gotten drunk in the past month, about 15
percent of 10th-graders, and about 28 percent of 12th-graders.
- Miami-Dade is better off than the state for most smoking indicators. Fewer Miami-Dade
high school students are smoking (currently about 10 percent), and the trend has been
improving since 1997. Among local adults, 10 percent are current smokers compared to
nearly 20 percent for Florida.
- Safe sexual behaviors include abstinence, vaccinations, monogamy, fewer partners and
condoms. While 43 percent of local high school students surveyed said that they have
had sex, only 32 percent reported using a condom their last time. Adolescents and
young adults age 15–24 are at greatest risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs),
and more women than men have STD complications. Miami-Dade County is ranked first
(worst) among U.S. metropolitan areas for the highest number of reported AIDS cases.
What are the challenges?
- Families are challenged to uphold healthy habits during the “crunch time” of
the work and school week, between 3 pm and bedtime. One study describes this
as a time when parents are racing from work, arranging extracurricular activities,
monitoring homework, and getting ready for the next day. They can fall back on quick
meals, skip physical activity, and be distracted by TV, computers, and phones.
- Even if healthy habits are achieved at home, it is difficult to control every
environmental influence. Family members spend a lot of time in child care centers,
schools and workplaces. In most, sugary drinks are available and serving sizes are too
large. The media targets child audiences with unhealthy food ads. A culture of screen
time (TV and computers) keeps children and adults sedentary. Workplaces can also be
- Not all families have places nearby where they can play and be active. Barriers
to accessing parks or recreation centers may include lack of transportation, safety
concerns, or the cost of gym memberships.
- While advertising influences smoking behaviors, there are a variety of other
risk factors. Those at greatest risk of taking up smoking are white males, lacking
college plans, having parents who did not go to college, and experiencing stress.
- Distinguishing alcohol use from abuse is a challenge. Alcohol is available, socially
promoted, and broadly consumed. It is woven into our cultural and social fabric of
celebration and coming of age.
- Motivation for safe sexual behaviors may be hindered due to many sexually
transmitted diseases (STDs) remaining invisible and private.
- Reducing screen time (TV, video games, computers).
- Removing barriers to people using parks and outdoor spaces.
- Weight counseling combined with technology (video conferencing, pedometers, etc.).
- Worksite programs to combat obesity. Examples are those that increase knowledge through
education and training; change behaviors through counseling and social supports; and
revise policies and environments using strategies such as health insurance, gym
memberships, and healthy food and opportunities to exercise in the workplace.
- Enforcement of laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol to those under age twenty-one.
- Alcohol assessment and feedback including strategies that incorporate technology devices
for assessing individual drinking patterns.
- Youth-focused programs designed to delay first sexual encounters, reduce the number of
sexual partners, and increase condom use.
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