Sunday, October 5, 2008

Child Health Day

Today is the 80th annual Child Health Day, a health awareness day initiated by the Health Resources & Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Child Health Day's tagline is Eat Healthy & Be Active for a Healthy Future
As part of the initiative, the surgeon general asks everyone to take this pledge because "a healthy future is our gift to our children":
I pledge to:
Be a role model by making healthy choices for myself.
Help children be physically active through everyday play and participation in sports.
Support children's healthy eating habits.

The initiative cites that 1 in 6 U.S. children between 2 and 19 is overweight (that is roughly 12.5 million children or 17 percent). Overweight children are at greater risk for many serious health problems including asthma, diabetes, and heart disease. 
The Child Health Day website is packed with resources, information, and relevant links. I am especially fond of the site's resources pertaining to community involvement. Too many times people turn a blind eye to issues related to children because they do not have children of their own (I have heard, all too often, individuals in my community say, "I'm not voting in favor of that school levy because I don't have any children"). But I believe that we should all be invested in the next generation regardless.
Here are a few of my favorite community involvement suggestions:
  • Increase the "Walkability" of your community. I live in a community full of bike paths, parks, and green space (roughly one acre of park space for every 40 residents). In addition to backyards and sidewalks, there is a bounty of run-around space.
  • Increase the number of places people can get healthy food they can afford. I love this idea but I know how difficult it is. Fast-food is convenient and cheap, but it often lacks nutrition. One idea is to host a farmer's market in your community. I think every community should have a farmer's market. My community does not offer a farmer's market, and I think that is ridiculously unbalanced considering my community is resourceful, loaded with "green space," and surrounded by farm land. But don't worry, I have contacted my city's community services department regarding my concern and disappointment.
  • Build and keep up community recreation areas. My community has a beautiful recreation facility, and I am grateful to its investors for the development and maintenance of the facility. A rec facility is one of the best investments that a community can make as it offers a place for physical activity, recreation and community involvement AND it can be a source of income for the community if the facility has space for performances and workshops.
I encourage everyone to take a minute to consider the health and well-being of a child. You will be giving a gift not only to the next generation but to generations to come.

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