What Do World Health Day, CHE’s Healthy Aging Initiative, and Bruce Springsteen All Have in Common?

In recognition of CHE’s 10th anniversary, colleagues who have been particularly instrumental to shaping CHE this past decade will be invited to write an introduction. This month’s introduction is by Maria Valenti, who serves as the national coordinator for CHE’s Healthy Aging and the Environment Initiative.

They are all about aging well.

April 7th was World Health Day, an annual observation to mark the founding of the World Health organization (WHO) in 1948. The theme this year is “Good health adds years to life.” According to a statement issued by the United Nation Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, this theme “conveys an important message: promoting health throughout life improves one’s chances of remaining healthy and productive in one’s later years.”

This statement could have been lifted from the pages of the report Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging co-authored in 2008 by Drs. Ted Schettler and Jill Stein, myself, and Ben Rohrer. CHE’s relatively new Healthy Aging and the Environment Initiative was founded on this same premise, a life-course approach to health, which recognizes that the path to healthy aging is paved with healthy pregnancies, childhoods and mid-lives.

It is ever more important to consider the health of those who are aging as the number of this population swells dramatically, nearly doubling in the US over the next two decades. Soon, worldwide, for the first time in history, there will be more people aged 65 or over than children under 5.  

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Primary Prevention Starts with Moms

Elise Miller, MEd
Director

Why would a group of moms from around the country and varied ethnic backgrounds choose to spend almost three days together learning about environmental health science? As one participant in CHE’s new Environmental Health Primary Prevention Training program, put it: “Every mom is already devoted to prevention. We want keep our kids from getting sick and having any health problems. So of course we want to prevent exposures that could hurt our kids and communities. We’re moms—together we can do anything.”

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Keeping Lifecycles Healthy

Elise Miller, MEd
Director

“Recycling” is a pretty commonplace word these days when it comes to cans and newspapers. But recycling is also considered one of the most brilliant inventions ever in evolutionary terms. In fact, as Dianne Dumanoski writes in her book, The End of the Long Summer, “Establishing these grand cycles [such as respiration and photosynthesis] was one of the great problems early life had to solve in order to have a future.” She adds, “Enduring life is inescapably a joint enterprise.”
 
Reading this book provoked me to reflect on CHE’s role in these “grand cycles” of life. Since CHE’s work is fundamentally a “joint enterprise,” what are we doing and what more can we do to reinforce, rather than inhibit, the energy that keeps these natural cycles running smoothly?

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