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Jun 4, 2010

Posted by in Advocacies | 0 Comments

Am I fat?

Overheard at the elevator in school:

Girl 1: Oh my God, Sis, I feel so fat. I ate pa a mentos for lunch. Am I fat? I look fat right?

Girl 2: Okay lang yan, bawi ka nalang tomorrow. (Just make up for it tomorrow)

Girl 1: Hay, it’s so hard to diet….

Girl 2: I know right?

This was the conversation between two girls who were about 5’4 or so and looked as if they weighed about 100-110 pounds. No joke, no exaggeration. I was flabbergasted at her comment of feeling fat and feeling guilty about having had a mentos for lunch. ONE MENTOS! Can you believe it??

The conversation progressed to various diet pills and strategies for losing weight. It took every ounce of restraint for me not to react to, what seemed to be, a ludicrous conversation.

It’s  sad that this is a common conversation that goes on with teens. They are so preoccupied with weight and being a certain size, that at times, it can be worrisome. While I did not interrupt these two girls (especially since it would have been odd for me to do so!) it got me to thinking of my class project this term for PERSEF class. Every term I give my students an advocacy project to work on and hopefully doing something positive about teenagers and body image. While I know problems like anorexia and other eating disorders will always be part of adolescent growth and development, I hope this project can help make conversations like the one I overheard from happening again.

Photo credit: “252/365: Anorexia Nervosa” by Janine, c/o Flickr. Some Rights Reserved

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Jul 19, 2009

Posted by in Advocacies, Featured | 0 Comments

Hope for the Flowers: Help X Out Cervical Cancer

For my 30th birthday, I got myself the gift of protection. Yes, I armed myself with the protection against Cervical Cancer by committing to getting the vaccine that protects women from the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), the virus which causes abnormal growth in the cervix. According to research, half a million worldwide are diagnosed with Cervical Cancer and every two minutes, one of them will die because of it. Every day, 12 Filipina die of cervical cancer. It’s ranked as the second most common cancer afflicting Filipino women. The sad part of this reality is that while cervical cancer is highly preventable, it is difficult to detect in its early stages. Being a staunch believer that prevention is better than cure, plus of course the constant reminders of my OB/GYN that I should get protected, I finally did it. GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccine provides protection against HPV types 16 and 18, the two most common cancer-causing strains.  Now, women ages 10 years and older can be vaccinated.

Last July 16, 2009, advocates for cervical cancer unveiled Hope for the Flowers, a photo exhibit featuring stills from the Tour of Hope 2009’s Dare to Be Bold bike tour that aimed to raise funds for the Cervical Cancer Protection Network (CECAP). Images by renowned photographers Jun De Leon, Jed Santos, Ramon Ty and Miguel De Leon will be on display at the Main Atrium of the SM Mall of Asia until the end of the week.

*photos used with permission courtesy of GeiserMaclang.

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Jun 12, 2009

Posted by in Advocacies, Teacher's Corner | 0 Comments

“The world is now at the start of the 2009 influenza pandemic”

This was the statement issued by Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization.

It is a sobering statement. Many of us have read about past pandemics, such as the
Black Death or the Bubonic Plagues in the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries. However, I would think none of us expected to witness the evolution of a modern-day plague. The WHO points out that in the early stages of this pandemic, a moderate severity of the virus is foreseen. However, they are not closed to the idea that this may change as days go by. Nonetheless one thing I feel is reassuring is that despite all these facts, border closure and travel restrictions are not being enforced.

In the past 10 days I have been forced to stay home (at least for the most part) because of an A(H1N1) case in the institution I teach in. I have monitored the number of cases over the days and it is alarming to see the rise in cases. A lot of other schools have also fallen victim to the reach of this disease. When the DLSU quarantine began, I posted a question in one of my blogs asking if postponing the start of classes necessary. I suppose it’s not just a manner of postponing classes, because we can’t let this pandemic stop our lives completely. I beleive it is important to go back to the basics: proper hygene and good health practices.

For my first day of preschool classes I plan to teach 3 H’s (even if they may sound cliché):

1. Health is Wealth. This is such an old saying but I want my juniors class to begin to embrace this as fact. This will include my new rules for snack time: no “junk” food. I put junk in parenthesis because we often think junk is only limited to chips and soda. However, I feel that parents should avoid giving them sugar-filled cookies and the like on a daily basis. For this year, I will try to push for healthy snacks only: crackers, cereal,  and fruits. I would also suggest less tetra fruit drinks (as these are not REAL fruit anyway), but to alternate this with water, milk and less sugary drinks.

2.  Happy Hands are Clean Hands. Kids don’t often like washing their hands, even though they love playing with water! I want to try to make handwashing a real, honest-to-goodness habit in them. I also have put a timer beside the sink so this can guide the kids about how long they should “rub and scrub” their hands with soap and under the running water.

3. Hands Up!. One thing a lot of kids have to be reminded of is to put their hands up to cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze. I think even us adults on occasion need to be reminded! To make it more memorable for my kids, I’ll say “hands up!” instead of just simply “cover your mouth” because kids simply forget that!

These are my 3 H’s against A(H1N1) for my juniors class. Do you have any other suggestions that can help parents and teachers attempt to safeguard children against this pandemic? Feel free to post them here! Oh…and they don’t have to start with H!

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May 22, 2009

Posted by in Teacher's Corner | 0 Comments

Keeping Schools Safe from the AH1N1/Swine Flu Virus.

The Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed that the dreaded AH1N1 or Swine Flu virus has made its way to Philippine shores. Despite protective measures taken in airports and other ports of entry to our country, it is frightening to know that we no longer can claim to be free of the virus.  According to reports, a 10-year old child who returned from travelling with her family to the US and Canada, tested positive for the virus. Further reports indicate that she is recuperating well while under strict quarantine.

This is especially concerning now that classes are but two weeks away.

Aside from placing ourselves in a sterile bubble, what can we do? More importantly, what should schools do to safeguard their students and faculty from acquiring the illness?

1. Strictly enforce a “do-not-come-to-class-if-you-are-sick” policy. While most kids love to be absent for any reason, often times they are forced to go to school because of the concerns their parents may have about what they would miss in class. While absenteeism is indeed a contributing factor to low grades, sometimes it is more logical to have kids stay home from school especially since they are often contained in one room where they are in close contact with twenty-five or more other students. Teachers can provide supplemental activities for students who are absent, thus allowing them to keep up with the demands in class.

2. Teachers should keep a bottle of alcohol or hand-sanitizer handy at all times. Albeit handwashing is still best, sometimes it is not accessible or feasible at an instant! For example, in my toddlers class, sometimes lining up twelve 2-3 year olds is not so easy, especially since I am a stickler for “no yaya in the classroom”.  As an alternative FOR THE MEANTIME while the others are lining up, I use alcohol or sanitizer until I get them to a sink to wash. Having this handy is also helpful as it is easily accessible after a child sneezes or what-not.

3. Keeping tissues nearby is also a big help! I personally am not a big fan of hankies, I prefer tissues. This may be different for others. I find that tissues are better because it is disposable, whereas if I use a hanky to wipe my students’ nose, I kinda keep the germs on hand, right? Correct me if I’m wrong though :-) Bottom line, it’s a preferrence.

4. Teach students the proper way of handwashing. I think a lot of us are guilty of washing our hands too quickly :-) Reminding the kids (and ourselves) that we should wash our hands with soap for about 20 seconds in running water. If possible, use liquid soap as bar soaps are often breeding grounds for viruses and bacteria. After washing, drying hands with a disposable paper towel is recommended. For younger kids, having a timer with a bell or something similar to that can help mark how long they should, as I call it, “rub and scrub” their hands.

5. Teachers and parents can also benefit from reading articles about the illness so they can be aware of the signs and symptoms of infection.  According to the World Health OrganizationEarly signs of influenza A(H1N1) are flu-like, including fever, cough, headache, muscle and joint pain, sore throat and runny nose, and sometimes vomiting or diarrhoea”.

6. For those working with young children, it would help to get to understand their language. Sometimes we do not understand what they mean by “ouchie”. Perhaps we also don’t know that they are experiencing muscle and joint pains, as we don’t see or feel it, unlike when they have a fever. Being able to ask them what hurts and what they mean by this “hurt”  can definitely clarify things.

7. Air out and sanitize classrooms after it is used. Germs can remain in stagnant air, so allowing a classroom to “breathe” after classes can be a good way to expel these germs. This is especially true for classrooms with airconditioners running during class hours. Usually what happens after the janitors/cleaners are done with fixing up the room, the door is closed till the next day.

8. Consider getting vaccinations against the flu/pneumonia. I believe that as a teacher, I should be responsible enough to ensure that I do not inadvertently infect my students, this is why I chose to get the flu vaccine.  While this will not keep you protected against the AH1N1 virus, you can help keep your immune system at par with all the viruses we are exposed to.

9. Eat healthy. As with the previous suggestion, keeping our immune systems healthy can be good ways to keep us safe from infections. Loading up on nutritious food with lots of vitamins and minerals is one way we can keep ourselves healthy.

10. Lastly, be vigilant. Watch out for what is going on around you. By being aware of subtle changes in behavior in children is key. Often times before the onset of illnesses parents and teachers note some form of change (i.e. appetite, activity level, sleep) in the kids. These may signal the start of the body’s attempt to fight off infections.

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