Chris GoodwinLast month Leadership Seacoast participants took part in Health and Human Services Day. For many the day provided an eye opening perspective of some important health-related issues facing the Seacoast today. Chris Goodwin, Director of Support for PixelMEDIA, Class of 2014, talked with Leadership Seacoast about his experience that day.

1. What part of the Health and Human Services Day did you find most interesting?

What stands out most are the Walk-A-Mile Poverty Simulation and the time we spent with the program directors learning about the services offered at the Portsmouth Community Campus.

2. Did you learn something new about the issues facing the Seacoast in the Health and Human Services?

YES! The entire day was educational. But specifically, the insurance discussion at the beginning of the day with Tyler Brannen, Health Policy Analyst, NH Insurance Department, was fascinating as was the presentation from Sandi Coyle, MS, CPS, Regional Coordinator, Allies in Substance Abuse Prevention, about substance abuse, mental health and the impact on health and human services.

I was also disheartened to learn about the issues involved with New Hampshire’s aging population, the difficulty we have providing needed mental health services and the recent significant increase in our child poverty rate.

3. What role did you play in the Walk-A-Mile Poverty Simulation? How would you describe your experience with it?

My role was a 13-year-old boy with immigrant, non-English speaking parents. The simulation was stressful in that I had a difficult time both knowing what services were available to my family and how to access them. Additionally, I felt the pressures associated with a 13-year-old boy having to take on adult responsibilities and trying to balance them with school.

4. Did you walk away with any ideas of how you could become involved in making a difference to change poverty in this area?

I did. In fact, I’ve been in touch with Rockingham Community Action with regard to providing teaching/tutoring for their Adult Education program.

5. Did you learn anything there that you want to learn more about?

I was not aware of the existence of the Community Campus. As a life-long Seacoast resident this has made me aware of some significant naiveté on my part so I am looking forward to learning more about all of the programs/services offered there and how volunteers can help them be successful.

6. Any other thoughts/comments you can share about your experience that day?

As each of the program days has been, this one was extremely educational. One of the takeaways I have had from each of them is a better awareness of what’s going on and the issues facing our community. At the very least I am a more educated voter and concerned citizen. But finding a specific area that hits close to home, where I can get involved and make a difference, is what I am aiming to accomplish. So far I don’t foresee that being difficult at all.