A Story of Health Launches

written by Elise Miller, MEd

If your holidays were like mine, you gathered with extended family to celebrate. Mixed with the sharing of good cheer, you may have also learned that your cousin has been suffering severe asthma attacks or your young niece was diagnosed with childhood leukemia or your grandson is having difficulty learning and relating to peers. Unfortunately, these stories seem to be woven more thickly into the fabric of our family conversations as various chronic health challenges increasingly dominate the landscape of our lives.

Why is this happening? Are there actions we can take as individuals and as a society so that we more often get to share stories of good health with our family and friends, rather than so many about chronic disease and disability?

A Story of Health, a new multimedia, interactive eBook, is being launched this month to try to answer both of those questions. For over two years, CHE has been collaborating with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR); the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, California Environmental Protection Agency (OEHHA); the Science and Environmental Health Network (SEHN); and the University of California, San Francisco, Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (UCSF PEHSU) to develop this first-of-its-kind resource.

Unlike many materials currently available, A Story of Health doesn’t focus on just one contributor to disease and disability, such as socioeconomic status or toxic chemicals. Instead, using a family reunion as the backdrop for narrative case studies on different health conditions, A Story of Health describes multiple factors that influence our health across the lifespan—the natural, built, chemical, food, economic, and social environments—and how they interact with each other and our genes. All of it based on the best available peer-reviewed science.

A Story of Health is also unique in that it is neither a synthesis of white papers, which can only be understood by those with a PhD in environmental health sciences, nor a simplistic graphic that glosses over important nuances in the research. Instead, A Story of Health is made accessible through fictional stories using engaging illustrations, graphics, videos, and links to hundreds of resources. These references include not only research on specific health concerns, but prevention strategies as well.

A Story of Health's family reunion

Using the setting of a family reunion as a backdrop, “A Story of Health” explores how multiple environments influence our health across the lifespan.

Six case studies will be covered in the eBook—asthma, childhood leukemia, learning/developmental disabilities, infertility, cognitive decline and diabetes/obesity. The first three will be available to download at CHE’s website by January 22nd (visit A Story of Health webpage and sign up to receive updates). Health professionals will be able to receive continuing education (CE) credits through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/ATSDR.

Most important is that these materials are freely offered for public access by anyone concerned with the health of loved ones, community and society. To learn more, please join us on January 22nd at 10:00 am Pacific/1:00 pm Eastern for CHE’s first A Story of Health call which will highlight “Stephen’s story” about childhood leukemia.

May the New Year be off to a healthy, inspired and productive start for all of you!

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