Say what you want about our County Executive (and I know you will) but I have noticed something about him over the years. He takes health in Howard County seriously. He’s a man of action for health. He doesn’t underhandedly fat-shame the public the way some leaders do. He doesn’t send out some worthless press release expressing his disappointment over the state of our well being. This dude actually makes some moves. As a health advocate/writer/nut I am very impressed with the work of Mr. Ulman on behalf of health. Check up on this!
Mental Health First Aid Training– After the horrific and inexplicable shooting at Columbia Mall we were all left baffled and terrified. And we were left debating issues like gun rights, security, and, of course, mental health. Well here comes Ken Ulman with a solution that could help chip away at this mountain. Education!! He hit the bulls eye when he mentioned the word stigma. I’ve been writing about health for eight years and to me stigma is one of the most deadly words in public health. Nearly 30 percent of people Americans need mental health treatment but sadly only one third will actually go get it partly because they don’t want to be labeled as “crazy”. Is education a cure all? Not really. But it’s a start. Maybe if someone in the gun man’s life had recognized the warning signs of mental illness those three young people would be here today.
Smoking Ban in Parks– He issued an executive order to ban smoking in public parks. Not that smoking in an open air space was a huge public health threat but hey second hand smoke sucks and it’s annoying. I’m not for shaming smokers especially since my dad and my sister and my grandmother smoked for many years. Smokers are not bad people. But as far as I’m concerned, the less we have to deal with this nasty addiction in public the better. This ban seemed to be more about ‘denormalizing‘ than shaming. He seemingly turned a deaf ear to those who whined about this law and said that it increases the stigma around smoking but let’s be honest: smoking is bad for you so why try to protect its reputation. So as much as folks wanna complain about him clamping down on the “poor smokers” I’m glad he did. Time to out those things out for good.
No more sugary beverages on county property– No more Cokes in the soda machines at the courthouse. Awwww!!! Sorry Boo. I cheered loudly for this decision. Another ‘nanny state’ like decision that had some folks raising pitch forks. But when cooler heads prevail I hope folks saw this for what it truly is. This decision wasn’t about what people want to feed themselves or their children. Drink all the soda you want. Just don’t expect the county to be an accomplice by selling these products to you.
School-based wellness center– As a parent and a teacher and a health advocate I applaud this effort over and over again. Bollman Bridge Elementary School Wellness Center is awesome!! Students walking to a room within their very own school to get health immunizations, physicals, treatment for illnesses, etc. Immediate and hopefully thorough medical attention that will keep kids healthy without a total disruption of their academic day. Ingenious and right in tune with this new style of health care in America.
Yes I know he’s done more for health but I don’t have the time or all the info to talk about his extended resume. And YES I know these were not all his ideas. He clearly teamed up with some brilliant health educators and advocates to get the j-o-b done. Good for him!! I want to see more leaders making moves to protect public health. Are these moves some sort of political pandering? Maybe. But if it extends the life of a few citizens in Ho Co then pander away.
I’m sure I could join the crowd and bash Mr. Ulman over some other political issues but I won’t. This isn’t about that. It takes a lot of energy to go in on someone like that and I don’t have the inclination to do so right now. It’s time for some praise. Good job Ken U. on working to make Howard County the healthiest place to be in the entire state of Maryland.
For those of you who live abroad and are now interested in who this Ken Ulman person is, click here to see his web page. You will notice that he is running for a higher position in the state of Maryland. And before you ask the answer is ‘No I don’t know him’ and ‘I don’t work for his campaign at all’. This blog is totally me talking from my point of view. Also, click here to see an interview he did about how he fosters health in Howard County. I enjoyed reading it.