“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
According to the recently released 2011 Indiana Civic Health Index, Indiana ranks 45 out 50 states in working with neighbors to solve community problems (6.5%). By any standards this is failure. As in President John F. Kennedy’s famous quote above, we need to look around and ask each other how we can help to improve our communities: the places we live, work, and the places our children will inherit one day in the near future.
The Civic Health Index, which was made possible due to contributions from the National Conference on Citizenship, Indiana Bar Foundation, Center on Congress, Hoosier State Press Association Foundation, Indiana University Northwest, and Indiana Supreme Court, examined behaviors and attitudes of Hoosiers regarding civic life, which includes community involvement and voter registration and turnout. The meaning of civic health, as defined by the study, is the “measure of how actively citizens engage in their communities.” The numbers and statistics from this study were gathered from the U.S. Census Bureau and Current Population Survey.
Here are some of the key findings from the study:
36.2% = percentage of Hoosiers who belong to religious, neighborhood, school, sports and other types of community groups, as compared with the national average of 33.3%.
26.1% = percentage of Hoosiers that volunteer, as compared with the national average of 26.3%.
90.1% – percentage of Hoosiers that eat dinner with their family a few times a week or more, as compared with the national average of 88.1%.
21.6% = percentage of Hoosiers who talk about politics with friends and family at least a few times a week, as compared with the national average of 25.6%.
39.4% = percentage of Hoosiers who turn out to vote in elections, as compared with the national average of 45.5%.
How can we improve our civic health? Indiana’s lowest rankings were in voter turn-out and working with neighbors to solve community problems. If we can improve upon these areas, as well as build upon the areas where we are most successful; volunteer and group membership, than we will be well on our way. According to the study, we can also improve our civic health from gathering news on a daily basis from a variety of media outlets, requiring more civics/government classes in primary and secondary schools, as well as increasing the number of Hoosiers that complete higher education options.
It is a big task to improve our state’s civic health – but one we must do to prevent further health deterioration and ensure a long healthier and happier life for our citizens.
By: Stephanie Freeman