May 2, 2008
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – There are many ways to prevent getting sick – get plenty of rest, drink lots of water, and dig dandelions instead of spraying weed killers.
Perhaps the last item is not the best-known way to prevent illness, but a collaborative effort from area health and wellness groups is trying to change that. Prevention Does a Body Good Week will be May 12-18, and will consist of educational programs across the Twin Cities aimed to increase awareness of the connection between a healthy environment and healthy living.
“We know we should be drinking clean water to stay healthy, but in order to do that we need to be responsible for keeping our community’s waters clean in the first place,” said Laurine Brown, visiting associate professor of health and environmental studies at Illinois Wesleyan University, who spearheaded the Prevention idea along with Missy Smock, director of the Wellness Center at Illinois Wesleyan.
“It is all about taking into account the environment around us when it comes to our health, and what we can do on a personal level as well as a community to make a positive impact,” said Smock.
Throughout the week, participating organizations will hold prevention workshops offering community members insights into taking steps toward a healthy life, and understanding how the environment impacts health. Workshops include discovering organic wine and cheese with an open house tasting, learning about “green” techniques of remodeling or building a home, understanding the dangers of radon, detoxifying the body with foods, lifestyle, or massage and even creating an organic garden. Find a complete listing of the workshops at www.iwu.edu/~wellness.
“For some people, these workshops will provide tips on how to live a little healthier. For others, it will be the beginning of making some bigger changes in their lives,” said Smock.
According to Smock, the idea of linking prevention of illness and the environment is relatively new, which posed a challenge when she and Brown first proposed a Prevention Week. “It is as simple as saying that we know if we have cleaner air, fewer people may develop asthma, but the science behind environmental prevention is not widely reported or understood yet,” said Smock, who wanted to adapt a national environmental prevention campaign on a local level with Brown.
“It is a common sense idea that is beginning to take hold,” agreed Brown, who noted that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and other scientific groups are releasing studies documenting Americans’ chemical body burden and helping make the environmental and health connection. “We really wanted a grassroots effort to get the environment into the discussion.”
Brown did more than get people talking; she pulled her Illinois Wesleyan students in on the campaign. Students from Brown’s War on Cancer: Does Environment Matter? course created fact sheets for the Prevention Does a Body Good Week that will inform people of the connections between environmental factors and cancer. Among other things, they created a campus-wide poster campaign titled “Don’t Diss the Dandelions,” which aimed to promote dandelion tolerance while educating students about the connections between the toxins found in weed killers and cancer.
“I feel it is important to teach the public about some of the hidden consequences of their daily actions,” said Anthony Gunnell, one of the students who took Brown’s class. “In doing so, I hope we can invoke lifestyle changes so that the human community will benefit by better understanding the results of their actions.”
“These students are the next generation,” said Brown, who is a cancer survivor. “It is up to them to inspire solutions that can make change.”
Workshops will take place at the locations of Prevention Does a Body Good Week sponsors, which are Illinois Wesleyan University, Ecology Action Center, Illinois State University, BroMenn Healthcare, OSF St. Joseph Medical Center, Community Cancer Center, A. Renee, McLean County Health Department, Heartland Community College, Phoenix Massage and Wellness, Main Street Yoga Studio, Contemporary Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Spaces are limited for each event and reservations must be made. While most workshops are free, some may charge a fee as noted in the schedule. For more information, contact Missy Smock at Illinois Wesleyan University Wellness Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or (309) 556-3334.
Contact: Rachel Hatch, (309) 556-3181