Sunday, April 05, 2009

April Health Observances, Part 2

National Child Abuse Prevention Month. It seems like not a week goes by that we don’t read shocking stories of child abuse or neglect occurring somewhere in our country. This month several agencies have launched campaigns in recognition of National Child Abuse Prevention month. A governmental agency maintains the Child Welfare Information Gateway where you can download child abuse tip sheets in English or Spanish. The titles for 2009 are:
Bonding with Your Baby, Dealing with Temper Tantrums, Connecting with Your Teen, Teen Parents? You're Not Alone!, Ten Ways to be a Better Dad, and Raising Your Grandchildren. The Child Welfare League of America also has downloadable tip sheets available and Prevent Child Abuse America offers some specific suggestions for all of us: “What you can do: Reach Out.” Look for "hands around the courthouse" awareness-raising events in your community this month.

National Autism Awareness Month. In 2007 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control issued results of their prevalence report on autism. The results were startling. Approximately 1 in 100 children in the U.S. suffer some degree of autism. There has been no scientific consensus regarding a specific cause of autism. Certain sets of behaviors are used to identify this developmental disability. Signs of autism usually appear in the first three years of life, affecting interaction and communication with others. The Autism Society of America has suggested 8 ways to observing National Autism Awareness Month. They recommend reading a new book, The Horse Boy, written by Rupert Isaacson to share how he and his wife have accepted their son’s autism “as an adventure rather than a curse, a beginning rather than an end.”

National Parkinson Disease Awareness Month. Parkinson Disease is actually a group of related chronic and progressive motor (movement) disorders that can be treated with varying degrees of success, but (so far) not cured. Look for special events this month sponsored by the National Parkinson Foundation and the American Parkinson Disease Association. Michael J. Fox, the most high-profile public figure battling young-onset Parkinson’s, has established a foundation for Parkinson research with a very informative website worth investigating.

Sarcoidosis Awareness Month. Last year we were shocked when comedian Bernie Mac died from complications of pneumonia. He suffered from the autoimmune illness Sarcoidosis, a condition that causes tumors called granulomas to form, usually in the lungs. Sarcoidosis most often affects persons of African or Scandinavian descent. The severity of the disease and the organs affected also vary somewhat according to race and ethnicity. The Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research is the best site I’ve come across for providing concise, general information regarding this condition. Read more about sarcoidosis here, American Lung Association, and here, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

National Minority Health Awareness Month. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health sponsors National Minority Health & Health Disparities Month every April. This year’s campaign focuses on raising awareness about the high infant mortality in African-American communities and how preconception health care can prevent infant deaths. Download brochures and other helpful information for this campaign entitled, A Healthy Baby Begins with You. The Office of Minority Health website is a great resource, and the very real issue of health disparity is something I want to blog about more in the future.

Sports and Eye Safety. Three organizations are raising awareness about the importance of using caution to protect our eyes from accidental injury. Please visit the organizations' links for more information regarding:

  • Sports Eye Safety Month sponsored by the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

  • Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month sponsored by Prevent Blindness America.

  • National Youth Sports Safety Month sponsored by the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation.

  • Foot Health Awareness Month. American Podiatric Medical Association foot health campaign this April (entitled Podiatrists Keep America Walking) focuses on heel pain, and the podiatrist’s role in diagnosing and treating this condition. Foot health is for everyone, kids included, you’ll find informational foot health brochures for everyone at the APMA site. Foot health is even more crucial for those with poor peripheral circulation and those who’ve been afflicted with diabetes for a long time so it’s appropriate that the National Diabetes Education Program of NIDDK is helping promote Foot Health Awareness Month by featuring two new online publications. "Take Care of Your Feet for a Lifetime" offers foot care advice especially for people with diabetes. The publication, "Feet Can Last for a Lifetime," is aimed towards healthcare professionals and features tools for diabetes foot exams, along with other information and resource materials.

    STD Awareness Month. In the past, sexually transmitted diseases were also referred to as “social diseases” and “venereal diseases.” When I was growing up in the 1970’s venereal diseases were known collectively as “VD,” and I will never forget this catchy TV public service message, “VD is for Everybody.” That campaign for public awareness was created by the American Social Health Association, still a sponsor of National STD’s/Family Planning Awareness month. Some other websites offer fresh approaches worth mentioning here. This STD Awareness Month site is sponsored by the CDC with a refreshingly un-CDC format that is very youth and 20-something friendly. They are really doing the right thing with this informational site. They also link to another awesome STD-prevention website for young people sponsored by MTV and the Kaiser Family Foundation. “It’s Your Sex Life” focuses on preventing STD’s and unintended pregnancy. This year’s campaign focus is, “Get Yourself Tested (GYT) . . . ask for it.” Link your teen, pre-teen or twenty-something to these sites. These are issues that are sometimes hard for parents to discuss, but sexually transmitted diseases can last a lifetime.

    April 12-18, Heimlich Maneuver Week. Do you know how to perform the Heimlich Maneuver? National Heimlich Maneuver Week reinforces the use of this series of abdominal thrusts which induce an artificial cough to clear the airway of choking victims. This week also celebrates the human lives saved while recognizing their rescuers' efforts. Here’s a recent news item about one of the many Heimlich maneuver success stories.

    April 17, World Hemophilia Day. For the past 20 years World Hemophilia Day has been an opportunity to increase awareness about hemophilia and other inherited bleeding disorders. The theme for World Hemophilia Day 2009 is “Together, We Care.” Learn more at the homepages for the World Federation of Hemophilia and the National Hemophilia Foundation.

    April 18, National Healthy Kids Day. This day is sponsored by the YMCA as a way to promote healthy living and wellness. More than 1,750 YMCAs across the nation will sponsor events on or near the April 18th date. Events typically include games, classes, demonstrations, arts & crafts, giveaways, healthy treats, and educational resources. Click here to find a participating YMCA in your area.

    April 19-25, National Minority Cancer Awareness Week is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute as part of National Minority Health Awareness Month.

    April 20-26, Medical Fitness Week. The goal of this Medical Fitness Association’s initiative is to promote an increase in physical activity levels in all ages and to highlight the medical fitness difference. During this international event, medical fitness centers and communities are asked to offer programming that focuses on teaching families the skills they need to develop healthy lifestyle habits. Facilities may participate in a number of ways so expect to see health-fairs, educational seminars, fun run/walks and more. Many facilities choose to participate by entering in the "Steppin' Out... for a Lifetime," National Walking Challenge: 70,000 Steps in 7 Days which encourages local communities to get up and move by striving for 70,000 Steps in 7 Days from each participant. Currently, medical fitness facilities provide health and wellness programs to over three million people. Medical fitness centers are in key positions to impact the healthcare of their communities and to partner with the medical community in creating models for success.

    April 25 is the first World Meningitis Day. The theme this year is, “Join Hands against Meningitis.” The Confederation of Meningitis Organizations (CoMO), an Australia-based global advocacy group, is sponsoring this awareness day. Other advocacy organizations such as the Meningitis Angels will participate by holding events including a worldwide candle lighting at 6PM in each time zone so a candle will burn 24 hours around the clock in memory of someone whose life was taken by meningitis. Learn more about the types of meningitis and treatments at this CDC webpage. Learn more about vaccines to prevent bacterial meningitis and ask your healthcare provider if vaccination is appropriate for members of your family.

    April 26 & 27, March of Dimes March for Babies. The March of Dimes uses 77 cents of every dollar you raise in March for Babies to support research and programs that help moms reach full-term in their pregnancies so that their babies have the best chance to begin healthy lives. 1 million walkers in 900 communities are expected to participate. Find a walking event in your area. (Dates may vary, but most walking events fall on April 26 or 27.)

    April 26 - May 3, SAFE KIDS Week. will include events and promotions that are fun ways for families to be reminded of the benefits of close supervision, proper safety devices, and other simple prevention measures intended to protect children from their leading killer—accidental injury. Johnson & Johnson has been a long-time sponsor of the Safe Kids program, and their enthusiasm for the program has allowed international expansion into the program now known as Safe KIDS Worldwide (formerly the National Safe KIDS Campaign).

    April 29, Noise Awareness Day. The purpose of this 14th annual event, sponsored by the Noise Center of the League for the Hard of Hearing is to promote hearing conservation and noise awareness through education, advocacy and outreach. Age and exposure to loud noises can cause permanent and irreversible hearing loss. Our kids today are exposed to more noise than ever before. Learn simple ways to cut down on the noise in your life and on April 29th observe one minute of complete and total silence (between 2:15-2:16 p.m., if possible) in honor of the day.

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