We’re going to ask you to do something today.
First, open up the copy of Vital Signs, the annual report by Memorial University’s Harris Centre and the Community Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, that’s inside in today’s Telegram.
Second, read this “province-wide check-up of the quality of life in Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Next, note all the statistics that raised your eyebrows, such as the fact that just 48 per cent of people feel secure in their employment, or that only 26.7 per cent of the province’s seniors exercise for 150 minutes per week, or that one in four seniors live with a mental health problem, or that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are the most stressed people in Atlantic Canada.
Then, identify areas where you might be able to improve a statistic in a positive way.
And, finally — and this is the most important part — we’re asking you to take action and have an impact.
Yes, we’re asking you to become an active, engaged and informed citizen — if you aren’t one already. Because the actions of one person can make a difference.
It could be as easy as walking 30 minutes a day, deciding to spend more time camping in our great outdoors, or if your drinking water comes from a well, getting it tested (only 18 per cent of wells are tested annually.)
Even saying hello to your neighbours and inviting them over for a cup of tea in kitchen or a mug of beer in the shed would make this place a little better, because in the St. John’s area, only 40 per cent of residents know many or most of their neighbours.
And there’s something else you could do that requires far less effort than these simple suggestions. Commit to never driving after you drink alcohol again because — no surprise — our impaired driving rates are above the national average.
Yes, we’re asking you to become an active, engaged and informed citizen — if you aren’t one already.
And if reading Vital Signs has motivated you to do something more ambitious or industrious, then go for it.
Learn a new language.
Visit our historic sites. All of them.
Drive up our rates of volunteerism.
Advocate for better mental health services.
Start a community garden and plant seeds of self-sufficiency.
Fulfil a dream and open a small business in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.
Prepare your run for the next federal, provincial or municipal election.
Vote any time you can.
These are just a few suggestions to improve our collective quality of life, your sense of belonging and your raison d’être.
Because there’s no time like the present and, as the late Gord Downie wrote, “No dress rehearsal. This is our life.”
And why not make life better for yourself, for the neighbours you’ve just met, or for future generations?
Help us have healthy vital signs in the next checkup.