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"Healthy Environments Across Generations": New Interactive Resource Published By CHE

december-2009-flu2A remarkable new e-book has been published by the Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE).  Titled “Healthy Environments Across Generations,” this multimedia, free resource builds on the work initiated at the same-named June 2012 gathering at the New York Academy of Medicine.  This event, coordinated by Elise Miller and colleagues at CHE, was co-sponsored by over 60 organizations committed to environmental health and sustainability across the lifespan.  Participants ranged in age from 20’s to 80’s, and a broad array of panelists including health professionals, community activists, architects, naturalists and artists convened to debate integrative solutions to some of societies’ most complex challenges. 


CHE’s stated goal for the document “is to provide a comprehensive and cogent argument for broader and deeper investments in collaborative, cross-and multi-sector efforts to help prevent disease and disability and promote health and resilience across the lifespan.”  It has become apparent that individuals working in silos will not alone solve the complex ecological and environmental health problems we face.  CHE’s e-book creatively expands on the conference’s central theme, the exploration of an ecological or “systems” approach to health and the environment.   As Dr. Ted Schettler, one of the gathering’s lead organizers, notes, “An ecological approach to health accommodates the multi-dimensional nature of this complexity. It grapples with the fundamental interactions across the food, built, natural, chemical, socioeconomic environments—their relationships.  This approach sees the individual as nested within a family, community, ecosystem, and society and recognizes influences of each on the others.  An ecological framework recognizes the importance of time, the life-course and intergenerational considerations.”


The e-book frames a number of compelling questions that challenge even our most basic assumptions.  What is meant by “health”?  Is it simply the absence of disease?  Does it only reflect the wellbeing of an individual?  Perhaps it is more integrative, the optimal functioning of people as a society as we interact with nature and our planet.  What is the “environment”?  Is it the air we breathe, the water we drink, the soil we stand upon?  Does it involve the structures we inhabit?  What about the natural, built, food, chemical, socioeconomic and psychosocial environments – and their interrelationships?


The e-book concludes with four key goals that emerged from the conference’s discussions.


1. Promote integration

2. Foster innovation

3. Build a ‘culture of prevention’ through economic and legal incentives

4. Develop positive messaging and a network of communicators


This final goal includes a number of specific strategies worth considering.


·         Collect and disseminate stories, including stories of success, about integrative approaches to improving environmental health across the lifespan

·         Provide examples that reach and engage people “where they’re at”

·         Use social media to broaden the public’s understanding of these issues 

·         Educate key decision and policy makers in different sectors about the science so they can become stronger communicators within their organizations and communities and when talking with policymakers and others in positions of influence

·         Use innovative terms to convey messages about integrative approaches, such as ‘interwell’, ‘interhealth’ or ‘intergenerativity’


CHE provides us with resources and outlets for further dialogue, and encourages us to share our stories about our “success in collaborative work to improve health and environment across generations.”  It is worth reading (and listening to, and viewing) “Healthy Environments Across Generations” and considering how you can participate in creating sustainable, intergenerational environmental health change.


srosenLawrence Rosen, MD is an integrative pediatrician and co-author of Treatment Alternatives for Children, an evidence-based guide for parents interested in natural solutions for common childhood ailments. He is the founder of one of the country’s first “green” pediatric practices, The Whole Child Center, in Oradell, NJ, and serves as Medical Advisor to the Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center at HackensackUMC. Dr. Rosen is a founding member and Past Chair of the AAP Section on Integrative Medicine and is appointed as Clinical Assistant Professor in Pediatrics at UMDNJ. A graduate of New York Medical College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he completed his residency and chief residency in pediatrics at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Dr. Rosen has been featured on Good Morning America, CNN, and Imus in the Morning, and he is a frequently cited expert on children’s and environmental health matters. He is a contributing editor and pediatric columnist for Kiwi Magazine, as well as a contributing author/editor for several books, including Integrative Pediatrics, Green Baby, and Pediatric Clinics of North America: Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Dr. Rosen serves on many integrative health advisory boards, including the Holistic Moms Network, Teleosis Institute, and Integrative Healthcare Symposium, Integrative Touch for Kids, PedCAM, Kula for Karma, and MarbleJam Kids.



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