How can we expect our children to make healthful lifestyle choices when we have failed to provide them with the basic information from which they can make informed behavior choices?
How can they avoid liver damaging activities when they don’t know what their liver does, where it is, and especially when it doesn’t warn them that it is in trouble?
The only opportunity we have to provide this information on a regular basis is in schools.
We have failed to help our children learn how to stay healthy..
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have alerted the nation that hepatitis C cases are increasing among adolescents.
Have we taught children to take responsibility for their own health care? How can they make healthful lifestyle choices when they lack facts from which can make informed decisions about their behaviors? We have been putting a tourniquet on the hemorrhage of drug abuse but have failed to stop the root cause of the bleeding.
We all know that young children learn at an early age not to run out in the street, to brush their teeth, and to fasten their seat belt. Have we provided them with the information they need to avoid behaviors that can expose them to the toxins and the sea of invisible germs that surround them. Do they know and understand the risk posed by contaminated instruments used in body piercing, tattooing and sharing of needles and straws used to snort cocaine? Have we provided them with the knowledge and motivation they need to avoid these risks?
Parents, educators, and healthcare providers all feel frustrated at our inability to help children avoid the devastating consequences of participating in risky behaviors such as body piercing, tattoos, unprotected sex, binge drinking and even abuse of prescribed and over the counter drugs.
Substance abuse and related diseases such as hepatitis and other blood borne pathogens are causing immeasurable heartache, suffering and loss of lives. This is a major problem that is plaguing our nation costing billions of dollars devoted to intervention, not prevention. The future of our country depends on the health and well being of our children.
Unfortunately, surveys show that teachers lack the knowledge and tools to promote healthy lifestyle behaviors. Generally speaking, the public associates yellow eyes with hepatitis and cirrhosis as something you get when you drink too much. However, they do not know what that “something” is and what hepatitis and cirrhosis mean to their health and well being. They never learned about their own liver because it has not been previously taught in schools. . .and is still lacking in most curricula at all grade levels across the nation.
In a continuing effort to bring the problem of substance abuse under control, we have enlisted the assistance of the corporate community in a new Partners in Liver Wellness initiative. The goal is to educate employees in the workplace . . .and their families . . . about protecting themselves against hepatitis, avoiding over use of drugs, and avoiding mixing and matching drugs and alcohol. Georgia Power, Southern Company and The Coca-Cola Company, and others have joined this effort and are pleased to have effective materials to share with their employees and their families.
Following a report from school nurses that they were using one of our DVD created for teenagers, to show their custodians and EMTs to alert them about blood borne pathogens, we created a video focusing on blood borne pathogens that added information on liver wellness. The DISCOVERY Channel asked permission to use some of our 3D animation depicting the development of cirrhosis in this video for a program they were doing on liver transplants.
Many colleges are implementing programs to address the problem of binge drinking on campus. Some of the smartest young people in the world have lost their lives participating in this binge drinking. They were intelligent but lacked the information and motivation to take care of themselves and their liver. If only they had learned at an early age to respect their bodies and to understand the consequences of such actions, they may still be here today.
Extensive evaluations of the liver wellness approach prove that once informed of a few basic liver functions that they can relate to in their daily lives, individuals are motivated to modify their behaviors and avoid liver damaging activities.We have a national educational system in place with the capability to reach children at an all ages, but have failed to use it effectively to our children how to take care of themselves.
Health education must begin as early as possible . . .in pre school and Head Start programs if possible, and certainly in elementary schools. Teachers need to be trained and provided with effective tools to encourage children to learn and act on what they have learned.
At the present time, there is an enormous gap in our health education efforts. Parents are uninformed because they, too, were not taught about their liver in school. Children and young adults need our help. We have some very effective tools to address this pervasive problem but must establish an organized system to provide them through our educational system. Even physicians have been impressed with our unique and non threatening way to encourage everyone to take better care of their liver.
Our policy makers need to be alerted to the major MISSED OPPORTUNITY to stop the hemorrhage of substance abuse by using our school system. Please join our efforts to promote liver health and wellness at all levels, in schools, at home, at work and in our community organizations. We have award winning DVDs for all ages promoting healthy lifestyles and reader friendly brochures and posters for your use.
For more information and ways you can become involved, call the Hepatitis Foundation International and visit our websites; www.hepatitisfoundation.org and www.partnersinliverwellness.org or call us at 1-800-891-0707