Over the past two weeks, I have had the opportunity to experience the beauty of South Africa, relish in the culture, and learn from the local people. My colleague, Twanda Wadlington and I are based in the West Rand district of the Guateng province, specifically working in the Munsieville township. We are both working with Project Hope United Kingdom’s “Thoughtful Path” program.

The Thoughtful Path program aims to engage and empower the community to create positive health and social change for the orphaned and vulnerable children in Munsieville. The community, community based organizations, and the local government are typically involved in all aspects of the various projects associated with the Thoughtful Path. That said, we have had the opportunity to meet with a variety of different community members and organizations during our time here.
My internship with the Tennessee Cancer Coalition (TC2) is going very, very well! I have made significant progress on the skin cancer prevention toolkit through consultation with experts in the TC2 – Jackson region, the TC2 Skin Cancer Resource Committee Chair from Knoxville, and one of my local supervisors who represents the American Cancer Society. I will be contacting a melanoma survivor from Appalachia as well as a local high school health educator in the coming days in an effort to incorporate their input and experiences into the program as well. Additionally, we will be adding another sun safety awareness event to our schedule. On July 16th, we will provide no-cost educational materials and sun protection aids (i.e., visors, SPF 15 sunscreen, etc.) to those participating in health screenings during the Johnson City Farmers’ Market.
When Brande asked me to fill in for the Water = Hope Campaign, I couldn't have been happier. Having heard about the organization from her, I know it was an outreach effort really committed to making a difference in both the U.S. and abroad.

Coming primarily from a corporate event marketing background, I'm accustom to having a 'sell' at the events I manage. This time the 'sell' was easy - Everyone Everywhere should have access to clean drinking water. Period. Done.
We are very proud to be back out with Brad Paisley on his H20 Tour again this year. Our first stops in Virginia Beach, Hartford and Cleveland were a hug success; we talked to lots and lots of country fans about the importance of clean water. As always, we were impressed by how engaged fans were in our project, and how eager they were to help. Our first three shows were a big success, and we are very excited about the remaining dates over the course of the summer.

Like last year, we are also using our work with Brad to provide unique volunteer opportunities for those interested in this issue. By volunteering, you are not only contributing to your community (and getting a free Brad Paisley show as a thank you!) but demonstrating first hand the idea that a ‘small drop can make a big ripple’! To learn more about volunteering and to get signed up, visit:

http://www.waterequalshope.org/volunteer
Last night, Hope Through Healing Hands and the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health partnered hosting a meeting with the members of the Tennessee Global Health Coalition (TGHC). Doctors, academicians, nonprofit leaders, faith leaders, and private sector leaders alike joined together representing over 80 different organizations to discuss their work in global health and ways in which we could all work together better.
Talofa (greetings)! I arrived in American Samoa almost a week ago, and have fallen in love with the Samoan culture. I have found the people to be very friendly, the fresh foods are delicious, and the oceanic and mountainous views to be postcard worthy.

I have also been fascinated by the beauty of the traditional Samoan garb. It is very common to find men wearing Lava Lavas which is a cloth like wrap skirt, and the women to be clad in beautifully printed dresses complimented by a flower in their hair.

As I witness the beauty of this island, I have also taken note of the obesity problem. It baffles me to see people of an island that has a plethora of nutritious food to have one of the world’s highest obesity rates.

June 8, 2011

In Case You Missed It...

The Tennessean

More than one-fifth of preschool children are overweight or obese. That’s 20 percent of kids 5 years old and younger who are already on track for chronic health problems such as cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease before their first day of kindergarten.

That’s more than 4 million toddlers already queued up for health issues that will last them a lifetime. And of the heaviest youngsters — those who are obese — more than 160,000 live in Tennessee.

Our state’s and our nation’s obesity epidemic is well-documented, and childhood obesity continues to be an appropriate focus. We are learning more and more how nutrition and exercise at the very earliest stages of life can have a dramatic impact on our bodies as we age.

If the body mass index (or BMI, the ratio of height to weight that is typically used to determine a healthy weight) increases too soon or too rapidly for a young child — as young as 3 years old — research shows that child has a much higher risk of obesity later in life.

In short, too much fat produced too early sets the stage for a battle against obesity that will last a lifetime. Before most kids can add 1 plus 1 and get 2, their bodies are learning that being overweight is a way of life.

To start our children in life along this path is simply unacceptable.

There are plenty of statistics to cite, from economic — nearly $150 billion per year is being spent nationally to treat obesity-related medical conditions — to national security — more than 25 percent of all Americans ages 17-24 are unqualified for military service because they are too heavy. But those statistics shouldn’t be necessary.

Being overweight doesn’t necessarily equate to low self-esteem or an inability to achieve, but we cannot intentionally start toddlers out with a predisposition to type 2 diabetes and cancer and heart disease and expect things to be easier for them.

The next 15 years are going to be hard enough; we don’t need to make things any more difficult.

Solving the problem, however, is more complex; there is no silver bullet. Private- and public-sector leaders all have a critical role to play.

Several mayors from across the country recently pledged to do more for those in early child-care education settings in their cities. Many private-sector companies are helping to curb this epidemic, too. Specifically, a recent commitment from the planet’s largest retailers and food and beverage manufacturers to reduce calories in their products by 1.5 trillion by 2015 is laudable.

Parents, get kids moving

Parents also play a role. That’s why we’re calling on everyone to get our youngest kids more physically active. Whether that’s taking a walk or playing a game, it’s just as important for the 3-year-old in your life as it is for the 33-year-old in your life (or, in my case, older still). Cut out the sugar-sweetened beverages for kids under 5 and look to low-fat or nonfat milk for kids over 2 years old.

Equally, the private sector needs to continue to step up. Parents don’t need more complexity and more costs; they need more answers and easier ways to provide a healthy lifestyle for their kids. We need the private sector to make healthy choices as easy and as economical as possible.

We’re asking private industry to better serve their customers and communities by helping them access healthier products. This allows kids to have healthy childhoods. We can do better.

For a nation that prides itself on opportunity, we owe our youngest and most vulnerable at least that: the pledge to ensure their future is as healthy as possible.

And that means starting right from the beginning.

The Honorable William H. Frist, M.D., is vice chairman of the Partnership for a Healthier America, an organization working with the private sector to solve the nation’s childhood obesity crisis.

Let me begin by introducing myself – I’m Katie Baker, a second year doctoral student in Community Health attending East Tennessee State University’s College of Public Health. I was recently selected as a recipient of the 2011 ASPIRE Appalachia Scholarship and, as such, will be completing my summer field experience with the Tennessee Cancer Coalition, a state-wide organization focused on reducing cancer incidence, mortality, and morbidity and improving the quality of life for those affected by cancer in Tennessee. This experience could not have been better suited for me, as I have received intensive training in skin cancer prevention throughout my time at ETSU.
It usually comes to me in a super market, sometimes Wal-Mart. This time, it was in a Chili’s restaurant in Miami International Airport. I was returning from 6 weeks in Guyana and the bustling airport led me to seek refuge in a restaurant. The burger I ordered, with a thick slab of bacon, nearly overcame me with emotion. It wasn’t that it was such an incredible burger. It was my reflection, the contrast, of the place I often take for granted and the place I was returning from. The excess we have become accustomed to. Something so simple as a good burger is not obtainable everywhere. Many things aren’t.
I am sorry it has taken me this long to post again; the work here in Guyana is so great, and keeps me busy and exhausted. I’ll try to do better this week.

Today, I’ll share a bit about my hospital. Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) is the primary referral center for the country of Guyana. The “Accident and Emergency” Department treats roughly 75,000 patients a year. In a country with a total of only about 750,000 people, that’s roughly 10% of the nation’s population. To get an idea of what that’s like, imagine if one emergency room in the United States saw 30 million patients a year!

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