June 2016…A big thank you to the students, teachers, donors, parents, and other supporters who came together to celebrate the launch of Leading Healthy Change In Our Communities 2016. The event, held May 24 at the Merion Tribute House in Merion Station, Pa., offered a chance for attendees to get their copy of the book signed by the student authors and health leaders they interviewed, create a “Healthy High-Five” tweet, and take a “selfie” photo with some of the book’s cover characters.
Dr. Julie Gerberding, a Merck senior executive and former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, delivered the keynote address. She called attention to a health paradox in the United States, stating that “despite the incredible proficiency of our healthcare system we’re not the healthiest country.”
She encouraged everyone attending to sign on as the “chief health officer” of their households and suggested ways they could live that role, such as making sure their homes have working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers; wearing seat belts and bike helmets; and helping to create a smoke-free environment in the home or workplace. (See the full list below.)
Most of the 2016 health leaders were in attendance, along with 17 student ambassadors representing the approximately 90 student authors who contributed to the book. Copies of the book will be distributed in schools and other community centers in the coming months. Additional copies of the book can be donated or purchased.
“We were very excited by the turnout for the book launch and the enthusiasm members of the community showed for the students and their work and the messages they had learned from the health leaders and shared in the book,” said Marian Uhlman, director of Healthy NewsWorks. “We’re deeply grateful to everyone who supported the book itself and our program throughout the year.”
Some of the student ambassadors also spoke during the book launch. “I felt excited and nervous, but also happy to be part of the event and to represent my school, Highland Park Elementary,” said Gabriela Fiorentino Wong, a fourth grader. “I enjoyed signing the book with (Children’s Crisis Treatment Center Chief Executive Officer) Mr. Antonio Valdés, speaking to the audience, and meeting the other student authors,” she said.
“It was an honor to be at the book-signing event,” said Riley Logan, a Marshall Street Elementary School reporter. “I felt important and special. It was an exciting night!”
Here are Dr. Gerberding’s “top 10” suggestions for how people could serve as chief health officers for their households:
10. Fight fire. Be sure your home has working smoke detectors and at least one fire extinguisher in the kitchen area.
9. Helmet your head. Wear a helmet to prevent injuries while bicycling or skateboarding.
8. Buckle up. Whether you’re a driver or a rider, make sure everyone in the car is wearing seat belts.
7. Screen the sun. Using sun screen can help prevent skin cancer and reduce wrinkles as you grow older.
6. Fight the bite. Protect against mosquito-borne diseases by getting rid of standing water in flower pots, clogged downspouts, and elsewhere. She also recommended visiting the CDC website to learn about insect repellent use and safety.
5. Share clean air. Creating a smoking-free environment in the home or workplace can help reduce lung cancer and other diseases that claim more than 400,000 lives a year, Dr. Gerberding said. For kids, her advice was simple: Don’t start smoking.
4. Be wise. Immunize. Vaccinations are “a lifelong method of health protection” that’s important not just for children but as people grow older, Dr. Gerberding said.
3. Eat the rainbow. Choose a healthy menu that includes red, orange, green, and yellow fruits or vegetables every day.
2. Get up and go. Remember to exercise and keep moving. “Get your parents out there,” she urged the children in the audience.
1. Keep the peace. Be calm, smile, be an optimist.
“Home is where the health is,” Dr. Gerberding said.