Dec 01

"Health is basic to everything"

by Sargent Shriver Peace Institute | 12/01/2023 2:10PM | Quote of the Week | War on Poverty

"Health is basic to everything. Health is one of the surest guarantees of 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.'"

Sargent Shriver | Los Angeles, CA | September 16, 1967


Our Quote of the Week underlines the central role that good health plays in our ability to pursue the opportunities that will allow us to live life to the fullest. 

This week's quote is from Sargent Shriver's 1967 Speech at the Dedication Ceremony of the South Central Multi-Purpose Health Services Center. During his time leading the War on Poverty, Shriver made health a key component of his work because he knew that access to health care for all was crucial in order to create a safe, prosperous society. He also knew that those who were struggling economically did not have access to health care, and to address what he considered to be an injustice such as this, he included Neighborhood Health Centers among the programs of the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO). (Today, the National Association of Community Health Centers continues to serve medically underserved communities, providing a variety of health services directly to patients around the country.)

As with all of the programs administered by the OEO, Shriver stressed that the Neighborhood Health Centers were community-focused, and as such, they could build something positive within communities:

"[T]his new health center is more than just another clinic. It represents not a committee of people -- but a community of people. People who said the three most challenging, words in history: 'Let's change things.' Not by burning down, but by building up."

Let us continue to support community-based approaches to public health. By doing so, we will not only nurture the well-being of communities around the country; we will help guarantee "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" of all our citizens.

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