Howard County is one of the nation’s wealthiest and most educated counties, yet we still face serious health challenges, including high rates of chronic disease, gaps in mental health services and a vulnerable aging population. These challenges are far greater for some members of our community. There are significant health disparities, and many people face barriers to making healthy choices and accessing critical health services.
Our new five-year strategic plan addresses three key priority areas to help ensure that everyone in our community can achieve better health. These issues are driven by the community’s needs and are shaped around strategic solutions that promise the greatest, lasting impact on physical and mental health. In each of these areas, the Foundation will measure, monitor and share its progress.
View our 2018-2022 Strategic Plan (pdf) and read below to learn more about our strategic priority areas.
PROMOTING HEALTHY KIDS & FAMILIES
For the first time in two centuries, researchers predict today’s children will live shorter lives than their parents. Chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes – already among the leading causes of death in Howard County – threaten our children’s health and well-being. Mental health issues also can and do present at early ages, even in elementary school. The Horizon Foundation strives to help children and families achieve a healthier future by making our community a place where healthy choices are easy choices and where mental health needs are better assessed and services are more accessible. We strive to help children and families achieve a healthy future by:
- Reducing the consumption, availability and sales of sugary drinks, the largest single source of added sugar in children’s diets and a key contributor to chronic disease.
- Enhancing and increasing participation in school breakfast and lunch so that all students have the best fuel to grow and perform well in school.
- Advocating for more funding and policies that promote a more bikeable and walkable Howard County so families can easily build physical activity into their daily routines.
- Improving family mental health and wellness through early detection and treatment of mental illness and raising mental health awareness in the community.
ENCOURAGING HEALTHY AGING
In the near future Howard County expects an unprecedented growth in its population of older adults. By 2035, those aged 65 and older will make up 21.63 percent of residents, compared to 10.12 percent in 2010. The Horizon Foundation will work to address critical health challenges as our residents age, before they face disability or disease. This work includes:
- Ensuring that our residents have the highest quality of health care right up to the end of their lives. We are working to increase the number of people who have named a health care agent and shared their wishes with family and friends.
- Raising awareness about mental illness and addressing adult anxiety and depression.
- Working with primary care providers to coordinate better mental health and primary care for all adults.
- Further assessing opportunities to support the health of our county’s aging adult population.
ENSURING A MORE EQUITABLE COMMUNITY
We believe every member of our community deserves the opportunity to live a long, healthy life. Yet data show health challenges are far greater for some members of our community. This is why we must make a concerted effort to support those facing the greatest barriers to good health and reduce health disparities. This work involves starting with racial equity in health and includes a focus on:
- Advancing policies and systems change that promise equitable health outcomes and increasing engagement with diverse leaders.
- Elevating the voices of leaders from diverse communities in the county to highlight and address health disparities in the community.
- Building the capacity of community organizations to advocate for health equity.