While my work is focused around the health and well being of children, I have come to understand that there’s more to that concept than check-ups and treating illness. I have begun to ask my patients to begin learning how to tell their own health stories and to think about the things that go into being a healthy child.
“Dr. Smith, you’re always getting us to tell the story of how we got sick, but I’ve got a different kind of story for you…” And here’s what I learned:
Last year, a local middle school sponsored a service trip to the Dominican Republic, and I remember the excitement and anticipation of the boys who were going (almost as much as I remember the drama of administering typhoid vaccines to the ones who were my patients). The trip was such a success, that the group began planning for their next trip before the last doses of malaria prophylaxis were finished.
This is the kind of Teach-the-Children-Change-the-World sort of story that I love to write about. Last year, these kids gave me the chance to explain what germs cause typhoid fever and malaria, but there was an even greater opportunity than that. I was in a position to suggest that they take a careful look around them as they traveled and notice what impacts health in another part of the world. Everything from nutrition and sanitation to medicines and vaccines, these were all things to observe, ponder and discuss. With any luck…these things, which are rarely on the radar of a typical middle school student, might become a noticed part of their own health stories.
As I checked in to see how the preparations were going for this year, I was delighted to learn that they, indeed, had ideas about what was necessary for the health and well being of their peers in the Dominican Republic. But it wasn’t what I would have guessed! These boys know the importance of PLAY in the life of every healthy kid, and if you click on the Red Title Sequence, it will take you to a link where you can hear their story. Instead of donating medical supplies, I am donating basketballs this year! Won’t you join me? (Their KickStarter deadline is March 9, 2013)