Tag Archives: toxic stress

BestStart Washington/Project Nature’s Commitment to Breaking Down Barriers Caused by Racial Inequality

BestStart Washington is committed to ensuring that all children and youth in Washington state  have the opportunity to achieve their full potential. We recognize that entrenched structural racism is an unacceptable barrier to child health and potential.

In our pediatric practices, we see first-hand the negative health outcomes that arise from racism including increased infant mortality, low birth weight, increased incidence of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES), decreased school readiness, higher school drop-out rates, and mental health problems stemming from chronic stress. We agree with our partners in King County that racism is a public health crisis with many families of color lacking sufficient access to health care and other resources to support child health and resiliency. As pediatric leaders, we have a responsibility to do much more in our practices and in our communities to end structural racism and combat its effects on child health.

We have found overwhelming evidence that nature access is a critical resource that promotes stronger physical and mental health outcomes for children. We launched Project Nature with the knowledge that children today spend less and less time exploring and moving in outdoor nature. For children and families of color this nature gap is especially stark. Historically, white-controlled systems of power—like segregation and red-lining—deliberately denied access to green spaces, parks, and pools for persons and communities of color. Constraints of money and time are also barriers for some families, especially when paired with the reality that greenspaces and parks can be severely limited in underserved communities.

We pledge to listen to families of color. With Project Nature, we are committed to building communication with black, brown, Native American and traditionally under-represented minority communities. In several studies, we have surveyed parents to ask them how often they are able to connect their children with the outdoors and what barriers they face. We recognize that fear can come with venturing out in nature as a person of color. We offer nature play kits and information to families to encourage nature contact. We are creating partnerships with like-minded individuals and organizations who are determined to create a reality where a child’s race or ethnicity will never prevent them from experiencing the joy and good health that time outdoors can bring.

Our work with BestStart Washington and Project Nature is just one small part of our larger commitment. We look forward to working with our health care colleagues in counties and in diverse communities across the state to continue to brainstorm, create, and weave together a fabric of solutions that ensures optimal health and developmental outcomes for all children in Washington.

Julian Ayer, MD, FAAP

Danette Glassy, MD, FAAP

Beth Harvey, MD, FAAP

Kimberlee Hauff, MD FAAP

Edgar K. Marcuse, MD, MPH, FAAP

Kyle Yasuda, MD, FAAP

 

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Fighting Chronic Disease
The Heckman Equation
Posted: May 1, 2014
New research from economist James Heckman and colleagues shows that quality early childhood programs that incorporate health and nutrition help prevent adult chronic disease.

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Trumping ACEs: Building Resilience and Better Health in Kids and Families Experiencing Trauma
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation – Culture of Health
Posted: October 7, 2013

“Fifteen years ago the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) study found that children exposed to traumatic events were more likely to develop mental and behavioral health problems like depression and addiction. They were also more likely to have physical illnesses like heart disease and diabetes.

Today, based on that evidence, we are witnessing a health revolution….”

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Using Science to Drive New Approaches to Child Welfare
Center on the Developing Child
Harvard University
Posted: October 4, 2013

“With their eyes on a more healthy, stable, and productive future for the nation’s most vulnerable children and families, federal child welfare officials are broadening their strategy…to try to enhance caregiving and to reduce the adverse experiences that can trigger toxic stress and its damaging lifelong consequences.”

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Pediatricians Take On Toxic Stress
Center on the Developing Child
Harvard University
Posted: October 1, 2013

Part one of a series of four articles. “A growing body of scientific evidence about the power of severe childhood stress to weaken brain architecture and damage lifelong health is prompting leading pediatricians to call for a seismic shift in pediatric primary care.”