Giving Youth Credit for Emergency Preparedness

Thursday, November 10th, 2005
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

America’s kids have been taking a beating health-wise in the press for a while now. If we were to believe all that we hear and read, most of the country’s youth are riveted to their couches or their computer screens. Even at school they’re getting a bad rap for making poor health choices, putting all the wrong foods on their cafeteria trays.

That’s why it’s gratifying to hear some good-news stories about children in recent days. This morning I heard about an 8-year-old boy who knew enough to call 911 when his mother collapsed in another room of their house. The emergency operator talked the child through the administration of CPR, and while he admitted it was “kinda gross,” his actions saved his mother’s life.

In the same vein, the smiling faces of a seventh-grader and her mom appeared in our local paper several weeks ago. They were recounting the events of a recent evening when her mom began choking on her food. Realizing that her mother was in distress, Samantha (who also happens to be an awesome goalie on our soccer team…so much for couch potatoes) began performing the Heimlich maneuver. She successfully dislodged the food stuck in her mother’s throat, a lifesaving gesture on her part. No wonder Sam’s mom was smiling.

Even closer to home, my high school junior took her physical education mid-term exam this morning. The subject was CPR, and by the end of the marking period there will be a crop of students newly certified in this procedure (those who studied, that is). This summer, my sixth-grader proudly displayed the certification she and her friends received at the culmination of the American Red Cross babysitting program.

These events may not have a lot to do with nutrition, but they indicate that many kids are equipped with the good sense to prepare for and react in an emergency. To paraphrase a popular poem on parenting, children learn what they live. With the proper guidance at home and in school, they’ll also eventually get that a healthy diet rich in exercise and low on screen time can also be a life-saving, life-enhancing strategy. Sweet.

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