I’m India Frith, Deputy Story Collection Coordinator, and I’m from Manhattan, New York, but was raised on the West side of Charleston, West Virginia. I graduated from Capital High School in 2019 and plan on attending West Virginia University in Morgantown to study Social Work. I am passionate about pursuing a career helping my community - which I discovered was my passion after partnering with several West Virginia-based advocacy organizations including Black Voters Impact Initiative, American Civil Liberties Union of WV, Young WV, Gift Project, WV Can’t Wait, and many more. Each of these experiences has helped me to learn, network, and build relationships with my community members. I’m especially passionate about learning skills that will help me encourage other young people and adults to be more politically involved and improve our state for the next generation.
As a young person in West Virginia it may feel like there is no place for us in the political area of our life, but there are many ways we can be involved in advocacy on a community level. For example, some of the work I have done in my community includes volunteering at events, canvassing, and talking to my neighbors about important and helpful bills that can help kids and parents such as The Crown Act and the enhanced Child Tax Credit, and facilitating workshops for teens on being politically involved. There really are so many ways to get involved and help make our communities better!
Working with West Virginians for Affordable Health Care gives me the opportunity to build on these experiences and expand my knowledge on ways I can help my community. As a young person, I’m learning how my perspective is valuable, and why it’s up to our generation to advocate for the rights of low income people so that we can all take care of our families the best we can.
Some of the many important things I’m excited to start working on with West Virginians for Affordable Health Care are:
- Learning about and sharing information on West Virginia Medicaid and how it can help them get access to important healthcare services and prescriptions. Making prescription drugs affordable to those who need them is a big need in my community. The cost of medicine is expensive and some can not afford it, so they would not be able to take it to better their health. I believe all people deserve access to Robust, Quality, and Consumer friendly Medicaid. That means healthcare will be available to all people no matter your income or status: including quality and accountability of Medicaid Managed Care services; expanding comprehensive Substance Use Disorder recovery resources, and vision benefits for adults. Expanding Medicaid eligibility would lead to advancements in consumer rights and protections in health insurance and healthcare as well as improvements to the quality and value of the healthcare system: meaning better care for all of us.
- Advocating for better nutritional options in the schools and in communities where access to produce and other healthy foods is limited. If you are experiencing hunger or food insecurity, some useful programs for nutrition are: Child Nutrition Program, Federal Nutrition Assistance Programs, WIC works resource system and many more.
- Reducing housing costs and expanding options for low income housing in West Virginia. When the federal Build Back Better legislative package passes in Congress, it will expand rental assistance for West Virginia renters. Basically what this can do is help families who want to buy or rent a house. Lots of families are spending 30% of their income on rent and that prevents them from purchasing a home, and that makes homeownership more of a challenge for many families.
- Advance strong family and medical leave policies. Again, this policy is in the Build Back Better legislation being debated in Congress right now. With federal paid leave, if you have to miss work to take care of a family or community member, you will be paid for it - for up to four weeks. Also in Build Back Better is more help for families with the cost of home- and community-based care for elder family members or those with disabilities so they can stay at home rather than go to a nursing home. Some people have to leave their jobs or even get fired because they have to take care of their family due to the high cost of caretakers.
- Advancing racial health equity and justice will be part of all the work I take on at West Virginians for Affordable Health Care. This means that no matter your race, every person will receive equal quality treatment and not have to worry about healthcare providers acting on biases about you as a person just because of your race. It is about being treated with respect. This is important because people need to feel safe to go to the doctor and not be afraid to be ignored or told wrong information. Many African Americans have had bad experiences or remember a past traumatic event at the doctors office, which can lead them to not want to go to the doctor for a regular check-up or even to stay away if they are sick. Many African Americans turn to home-made remedies that their parents or grandparents used to make them feel better. And some of these home-made remedies need to be respected by doctors because they do work and they can work with other treatments.
Working with West Virginians for Affordable Health Care I have already learned about the proposed federal Build Back Better bill. This exciting bill brings down costs that have held back families in West Virginia by cutting taxes for working people, and making childcare, home care, education, healthcare, and housing more affordable. The plan also provides new learning opportunities for children, helps working parents make ends meet, and positions the economy for stronger growth for years to come. We need these policies enacted in our communities now. This bill can help families in so many ways, and would make the things that were hard for them much easier.
There are families struggling to maintain these basic responsibilities such as paying bills, buying clothes for their kids, buying needed medication, attending regular doctor, vision, and dental appointments, and their kids' extra curricular activities and more. And all they need is access to the resources and help so they can grow, know better, and do better from there.
I’m excited to help my community by learning more about the health care system in West Virginia and how it can be improved to meet the needs of low income people in our state. I hope to share what I learn through my work with WVAHC with other young people and parents so they too can start to make a difference. Young people are needed! They can start programs in their community, create centers with services and support, organize events with friends and family, and find ways to contribute to individual food and household needs in respectful ways.
One easy way you can start being an advocate is by sharing your personal story for a cause you believe in. Our leaders need to hear the voices of the people impacted by healthcare issues in order to make meaningful change.
Everyone should be educated on the proper and respectful way of dealing with their community members, local officials, and any conflicts in their community. And once that first step is done, then we can build unity within our communities and be able to work together on what we need for everyone.
If you’re interested in sharing your healthcare story, I’d love to hear from you! Contact me at: [email protected]