Pediatricians Must Help Youth Climate Activist: A Prescription of HOPE
July 5, 2020
Honestly sometimes I’m not sure what I am doing. I pick up trash (223 bags now). I recycle (302 aluminum cans and 125 plastic mostly water bottles). I donate found items (41 pieces of clothing and 26 tennis balls/dog toys). I make trash art (see my anti-vaping pieces). I’m on instagram, never my face but always the trash I pick up (933 followers now). And I’m trying to go vegan, and educate my patients and fellow pediatricians that a planet-healthy and plant-based diet are one in the same. I just set in motion a journal club for our department on evidence-based discussion of veganism within the pediatric population called “So You Want Your Toddler to be Vegan?” Honestly one of the most impactful things I do is just donate money to environmental groups and we are at over $3000 this year and have helped preserve 7,212 acres of mostly rainforest and planted or helped preserve 200,000 trees. When the plastic picker children wake up, we’ll discuss where to donate this month.
But what am I doing? I sent two emails this morning. One email was to some fellow adult volunteers in our local Girl Scout office and another to our American Academy of Pediatrics Chapter 3 Climate Change and Health Interns. Both were regarding an upcoming conference HOPE in Relationships: Bridging Science to Practice. The conference description is below and a link if you are interested.
This 11th Annual Early Childhood Mental Health (ECMH) Conference will focus on the progress made in the past few years around relationships, resilience and protective factors, and will address the unique and complex needs of children and families living in very challenging circumstances. Distinguished speakers will provide updates on evidence-based practices, trauma-informed care, child welfare services, and advances in early education programs that address improving social-emotional development.
Our knowledge about how to make children more resilient has dramatically increased even though children and families continue to face many challenges. Bridging science to practice and implementing new and innovative practices can include barriers and challenges. The goal of this educational activity is to weave together a review of the most current scientific findings in early childhood mental health, highlight the latest progress in translating the research into interventions, and clearly outline what we can and must to do to collaborate and close the gaps in our educational and clinical services for children and families. https://cpd.ucsd.edu/earlychildhood/index.html
I plan to attend this conference with our two AAP Climate Change and Health Interns, as we figure out how to move foward with one of our projects. As I wrote in my email to some of the local Girl Scout leaders informing then about this conference, in case they wanted to attend. “This is my very long way of explaininig that as part of the AAP Climate Change and Health in San Diego, we are also trying to work with youth on different projects. In pediatrics nationally we are focused on identifying ACES, adverse childhood events, that predispose children later on to chronic adult medical diseases. As a counterpunch to ACES, is this idea of HOPE (positive childhood experiences). I seems like scouting is the embodiment of HOPE.” And indeed, I guess what I’m trying to do is to embody hope through my work. And the focus of this project is the youth that are working as part of our Children’s Art Council, the kids that will submit their art, and interns that are volunteering with us.
I just read in the New York Times the inspiring story of two Balinese sisters, Melati and Isabel Wijsen, who for the last seven years have been working in the plastic pollution crisis. They are now 19 and 17, and have helped usher in dramatic changes in their country and the world regarding plastic pollution https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/03/world/asia/bali-sisters-plastic-climate-change.html. But doesn’t it seem so wrong, that these children have had to do this work? They have spent their entire childhood’s fighting plastic. I just started about 1 year ago. And I see adults walk by the plastic all the time. I see adults with money who buy frivolous things, and blame the youth for trash on the beach, when they are the ones that are “Do Nothing Adults.”
Now I remember what I am doing. I am trying to find Hope for myself and Hope for the world and Hope for the children and youth that are on the forefront of this climate work.