The idea that it “takes a village to raise a child” is an African proverb that has been quoted time and time again as a way to describe the power and impact that having an entire group to reinforce and back up the lessons learned as a child grows. While the expression itself refers to the growth of children specifically, the notion itself is universal. People are happier and more productive in a community environment, and new studies are showing that community support can even make people healthier.

In the same way that it “takes a village to raise a child,” it could also be argued that it takes a healthy village to make a healthy person, as living in an atmosphere that promotes positive activities can in turn, positively impact the individual. A healthy community is one that understands that health is more than just the lack of disease but rather an entire lifestyle and ideology. The latest County Health Rankings release, which uses more than 30 different factors to measure the health of almost every county in the country, shows a shocking depiction of what health across the nation really entails. When it comes to America, clinical health care efforts only accounts for 20% of our overall health with the other 80% coming from a combination of both economic and social measures like education, housing, employment, the environment, and more. It’s clear that, in order to put ourselves on the correct path to healthier citizens, we need to rethink how we’ve always thought about health.

If we lived in a world that put the focus on building healthier communities instead of focusing solely on the need to produce efficiently and earn money, imagine what life could be like. If we worked on creating positive change for the betterment of society within our own communities first, how much better could we make the world?

Fortunately, there are things you can start doing right now to improve your community. If you’re looking for little ways to create a better world, here are just a few ways you can begin to make a difference.

  • Work on building a safe community.
    • Healthy communities are communities where everyone feels safe and secure, so look for ways to improve that safety. Organize a neighborhood watch or look for ways to assist your local law enforcement.
  • Build positive infrastructure.
    • Healthy communities provide services to help meet the needs of the people. Look for ways to help improve that infrastructure; design a new playground or dog park for your community where people can convene and enjoy fresh air and exercise.

Building healthy communities to help promote healthier lifestyles for healthier neighbors is a great first step in the effort to creating a more positive, healthy, wholesome world.