So, yesterday I stumbled upon this movement called The Leap Year Project. If you want to read up on the whole thing, you can check out their site, but basically it boils down to finding something that is a risk for you and taking the LEAP! into it this year (as 2012 is a leap year).
For me, it couldn’t have come at a better time. My rage was set off yesterday by the announcement that Susan G. Komen would pull all of it’s breast cancer screening funding from Planned Parenthood (for obvious, conservative reasons which they claim are untrue). I was not only upset by their blatant political move, but also by the way that this would continue to marginalize the poor. The gap continues to widen between the haves and have-nots and it’s a frustrating thing to watch. Should access to healthcare really be something that politicized and monetized? I have a hard time digesting the fact that in order to live a healthy life you have to have money and support the ‘right’ political parties. In fact, it makes me physically sick to think about.
But I realized my rage was deeper than this one incident.
Over the last year I’ve transformed my life through improving my diet (first going vegetarian, then vegan) and my fitness (I ran my first 5k and 10k last year). I was so profoundly changed by these events, that I decided to help others do the same by getting certified as a Nutrition and Wellness Consultant. Because of these things, I’ve become so much more aware of the nutrition and health issues around me.
Everyday I see people who are overweight, sedentary, lacking medical insurance, and struggling to live the life they’ve always dreamed of. And it’s this that sets off my rage. My rage is not guided at the individuals who are struggling, but at a system that has done it’s part to fail them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dismissing personal responsibility here, but the system hasn’t helped them at all - it’s probably made things worse.
With the Leapyear Project for support, I’ve decided to take my rage and channel into actually working to improve upon these issues, rather than just sit with my feelings and get more frustrated than I am already.
My risk for 2012 and the Leapyear Project is pretty straightforward: Improve the health and wellness of my community via group discussion, one-on-one consultations, film screenings, and other forms of outreach. The two main things I want to accomplish with this project are 1) Help everyone in my community understand how diet and health are related and how they can take charge of their own health without having to rely on the broken healthcare system and 2) Support local organizations that are already doing their part to better the health and wellness of those in our community (Planned Parenthood included).
This project is a risk for me, because it may subject me to a lot of negative criticism about the validity of a vegan diet, my personal morals, and various other deeply personal values that I hold near to my heart. However, for me, the risk is worth the potential reward: an awakened awareness of how we are in control of our own health and the refusal to politicize a basic human right to living a healthy life.
I will be chronicling most of this journey here, on twitter, and several other media sites. I’m open to your thoughts and suggestions - but I will not support hatred - so please think before you respond.
I will be posting more specific goals and tasks over the next week or so. I look forward to working on this project and hope you will take a LEAP! of your own this year!