October: Time to Focus on Protecting Children
No one wants to hurt a child. Yet each year since 1928 our nation's leaders have felt it's important to stress how we can unwittingly allow our children to be harmed in and around our own homes. Children are vulnerable. Pound for pound, they breathe more air, drink more water and eat more food than adults. They play close to the ground and put their hands in their mouths, increasing their exposure to toxins in the environment. Their small bodies are still developing, often making a child less able than adults to metabolize, detoxify and excrete toxins they consume from air pollution, drinking water, food, secondhand smoke, or peeling paint.
National Child Health Day, October 3 In 1928, President Calvin Coolidge established May 1 as Child Health Day. In 1959, Congress changed National Child Health Day to the first Monday in October, where it remains. The American Academy of Pediatrics established October as Child Health Month in 1992. Sixteen federal agencies observe October as Children's Health Month. In 1928, President Coolidge declared, "The protection and development of the health of the children of today are fundamental necessities to the future progress and welfare of the nation.
" Focusing on children's health today is as important as ever, maybe more. Asthma is a growing threat to children. With new chemicals introduced into the environment each year, children face a widening array of environmental hazards that can have a significant impact on their health and well-being. A Great Month to Learn The Children's Health Month ( http://www.childrenshealth.gov/index.html ) website provides great ideas to help parents and teachers learn more about a variety of child health topics: childhood illness prevention, education and child care, limiting environmental hazards, reducing risky behaviors, and safety. For October, you'll find a daily calendar of ideas to protect children, ranging from preventing mercury exposure at school to protecting children from secondhand smoke and mold. Other days will focus on the safe use of pesticides, how to prevent lead, radon and carbon monoxide poisoning, and how to help children breathe easier and reduce asthma attacks. Walk and Bike to School Week Children Health Month also includes International Walk and Bike to School Week October 3 - 7 ( http://www.
walktoschool-usa.org/ ). Children walking and biking to school offers real benefits for both the children and the environment. The week enhances children's health, cuts down on auto carbon monoxide around schools, and with parents involved, helps to create safer routes for walking and cycling. Everyone Can Help Children's Health Month is a tool to impress on everyone – health care professionals, teachers and parents – the importance of protecting children's health. Maybe we can absorb enough helpful ideas to last year round. Because, let's face it, children need our protection every day, every month. Why not click on the Children's Health Month Calendar ( http://www.childrenshealth.gov/calendar.
html ) and learn how to protect a child today? Or better yet, print out the calendar and check it all month long. Maybe give copies to friends. After all, children are 100 percent of our future. ZZZZZZ .
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