My challenge to the Humana Challenge
By Tony Aguilar
January 20, 2012–Earlier this week, former President Bill Clinton and the likes of Hollywood stars such as Goldie Hawn held the Clinton Foundation’s “Health Matters: Activating Wellness in Every Generation” conference at the posh Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa in Indian Wells. The conference kicked off the prestigious Humana Challenge PGA Tour in La Quinta and according to the Clinton Foundation’s website, highlights the tournament’s commitment to improve global health and well-being.
In my opinion, and again this is just my opinion, if these star-studded philanthropists really want to improve health amongst the country’s youth then they should go to the front lines of the healthcare crisis in the Coachella Valley not to a posh resort city such as Indian Wells, which is one of the wealthiest cities in the valley, and possibly the country. If the GPS on their European luxury cars does not lead them there, then I will gladly and warm-heartedly volunteer to serve as their caddy of sorts for the day as I show them around the Eastern Coachella Valley and present them the list of its healthcare disparities comparable in length only to their catalog of Oscars.
Earlier this week, the healthcare giant and title sponsor of the Humana Challenge held a “Humana Day” event in the host city of the tournament, La Quinta. This event featured a smorgasbord of healthy activities for the whole family, including a walk down Bear Creek trail, children’s activities and vendors sampling healthy treats. The city of La Quinta is bountiful with activities for its youth and seniors. It has several parks and other locations to gather for recreational activities. Residents’ access to healthy living there is superior when compared to the communities of the Eastern Coachella Valley.
There is something fundamentally wrong when the Humana Challenge, the Clinton Foundation and the PGA say they are effectively promoting health and well being to improve people’s quality of life, yet they host their posh events and outreach activities in communities that already have access to all of these services. Just a short ride from Indian Wells are the communities and residents of the Eastern Coachella Valley that suffer from great healthcare disparities that range from open cesspools to ghastly fumes from large industrial plants that lurk over parks and elementary schools.
While the Eastern Coachella Valley does not have a five star diamond resort such as the Renaissance Esmeralda to host the likes of former Presidents and Hollywood royalty, the Eastern Coachella Valley does possess the workforce that serves the dishes at the benefit dinners for a cause that will hardly benefit those most needing the “benefit.”
In what appears to be a testament to their fear of stepping into an Eastern Coachella Valley community, volunteers from Humana, the Desert Alliance for Community Empowerment and KaBOOM! spent six hours building a park in the community of Oasis. Six hours seems a bit rushed to build a park for children, appearing as though the volunteers were in a rush to jet in and out of the Eastern Coachella Valley on their private jets.
Even television’s Dr. Mehmet Oz took the time to meet with the people of the Eastern Valley face-to-face in October when he launched his HealthCorps initiative at Coachella Valley High School.
Next year, I challenge the Humana Challenge to descend onto Coachella Valley communities that actually need an improvement in healthcare: the entire Eastern Coachella Valley.
* Tony Aguilar is a member of Coachella Unincorporated and a student at College of the Desert who lives in Thermal.