More than one in four of America’s children face long-term challenges from pervasive threats to their health and well-being – and the solutions may lie in community action. That’s the message of a new video launched last week by Too Small to Fail, a national movement focused on improving the lives of America’s kids.
The video, available at www.toosmall.com and titled simply “Health,” focuses on Aubreey, a 14-year-old from North Hollywood, California. In the video, Aubreey describes her first asthma attack, which hit while she was in school. “I was scared,” Aubreey says. “Am I going to die? What’s happening?”
Aubreey’s story is a common one for America’s kids; as of 2010, over 10 million children in America suffered from asthma, making it the most prevalent childhood disability. The result of exposure to environmental pollutants in the air and in the home, asthma is the leading cause of absenteeism in schools – a fact which bodes ill for sufferers of the disease, according to experts quoted in the video.
“There’s a clear correlation between how healthy a child is, and how well they can perform in school,” says Dr. Brian Prestwich, Chief Medical Officer at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. “Children who suffer from chronic disease do not do as well in school.”
“Sixteen percent of America’s children have chronic conditions – add obesity, and you’re up to at least a third,” says Dr. Neal Halfon, Director of the Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities at the University of California – Los Angeles. “When we start to look at mental and developmental conditions, I think it’s more like 40 percent of children.”
“We put our entire society at risk when we allow millions of children to grow up with health conditions that will follow them for the rest of their lives,” says Ann O’Leary, Vice President and Director of the Children and Families Program at The Center for the Next Generation. “We can take real steps today by supporting the efforts of parents, communities, and public health experts to address these chronic health problems. No child should have to go through life with the burden of a chronic, preventable illness.”
Too Small to Fail (www.toosmall.com) seeks to make children a long-term national priority with the understanding that improved outcomes for children is derived from three levels of responsibility:
• Personal commitment: Parents must take responsibility for providing their children every opportunity to reach their potential.
• Private commitment: Businesses and community groups must support family-friendly policies and benefits that make it easier for parents to be there for their children at critical times.
• Public commitment: Government must create the level of protections and support that are afforded our seniors.
Too Small to Fail will build followers and support through social media, public meetings, media partnerships, and direct partnerships with national, state, and local organizations. The Center for the Next Generation and Parents magazine are also engaged in a year-long partnership, which includes dedicated features in print and as well as at the magazine’s website, parents.com/toosmall. Additionally, Washington Post Live is planning an 8-page insert on issues surrounding children and families and will serve as a host for a half-day summit in Washington in early 2013.
As a nonpartisan movement, Too Small to Fail has been developed by the Center for the Next Generation’s Children and Families program and is supported by the TomKat Charitable Trust, the Ford Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The growing list of national partner organizations include Opportunity Nation, First Focus, Moms Rising, Children’s Defense Fund, Voices for America’s Children, and the Families and Work Institute.
To learn more about Aubreey or Too Small to Fail, please visit http://www.toosmall.com/
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