Tag Archives: hurley medical center

Welcome to 2016, my fellow MSU Extension Spartans!

Welcome to 2016! I am thrilled to get a chance to highlight everything I’m learning about the amazing work that you are doing here in Michigan. I am looking forward to the chance to meet you and getting to know you. I would like to invite you to get to know a little bit more about me by checking out my About Me page.

This is another month to be proud of Michigan State University (MSU) Extension and the work that we do across the state. At Issues Identification listening sessions in Hancock, Escanaba and Sault Ste. Marie, we heard again about the appreciation Michigan residents have for you and the expertise you bring to their families, businesses and communities.

In Flint last Thursday, the Pediatric Public Health Initiative, a new collaboration between Michigan State University and Hurley Medical Center, was announced that will further focus attention and resources on Flint and children who have been impacted by toxic levels of lead in the water system. In the coming weeks and months, your MSU Extension colleagues will be doing even more along with partners from the Genesee County Health Department, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the College of Human Medicine at MSU. To read more about this initiative in Flint, you can read my previous blog post.

Of course, this week more than 600 of our teammates have also been providing breastfeeding education; helping families, farms and those with new product ideas to navigate difficult financial terrain; and opening doors to new learning opportunities for kids ranging from horsemanship and raising crops and animals to civic engagement and leadership. There is much to be proud of. We will continue to support, communicate and celebrate all that we do and have traditionally done at every opportunity.

We can also use our history, relationships, knowledge and expertise to develop new ideas, approaches and opportunities that are required of us in the 21st century. When my girls were small (Amanda and Rebecca are now 25 and 20, respectively), I struggled with a common issue experienced by nearly all parents with small children: how to keep them safe while traversing parking lots. Our rule was that once they got out of the car, they had to keep one hand on the vehicle until they held my hand, then we would walk hand-in-hand to our destination.

But kids are kids. They would be excited about where we were going or who we were meeting and would sometimes drop my hand and take off. My (I think fairly typical) response would be to yell sharply and run after them, which meant we would end up at our destination across the parking lot with crying kids and a grumpy Dad. No fun.

Then we discovered a solution and we can thank the Beatles. Our new rule became this: if you take your hand away from Dad’s hand, he will sing the chorus from “I Want to Hold Your Hand” as loudly as he can right there in the parking lot (“I wanna hold your hand, I wanna hold your hand, I wanna hold your hand”). The moment you reattach your hand to his, he will stop. Sounds crazy, but it worked. Not only did it accomplish safety in the parking lot, but there was no more crying and grumpiness. (Hint: If this does not work on the first attempt, you are not singing loudly enough to completely embarrass them.)

Try it. Find your voice. As you tackle your responsibilities this week, think about the challenges you face in helping our friends, neighbors and constituents through the work that you do and consider whether an unusual solution like “singing in the parking lot” will help. Creative interventions and singing/spreading the word about the incredible work that you do can help you to achieve your goals, open new paths of opportunity and enable us to do even more to serve people throughout Michigan. Take a risk, f it does not work the first time, perhaps you are not singing loudly enough!

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Filed under Accomplishments, Children and Youth, issue identification, Partnerships

How we will help our community in Flint

As a father myself, I was concerned by news of lead seeping into the water in Flint and its devastating health effects on children. Often, when people refer to Extension, they call us “boots on the ground,” and sure enough, our Michigan State University (MSU) Extension health and nutrition professionals have been working closely with the Genesee County health department, local agencies, hospitals and health professionals, and colleagues from MSU ever since the lead issue was uncovered.

In Flint last Thursday, the Pediatric Public Health Initiative was announced that will further focus attention and resources on Flint and children there who have been affected by toxic levels of lead in the water system. This collaboration brings together experts in pediatrics, child development, psychology, epidemiology, nutrition, toxicology, geography and education, and includes the Genesee County Health Department, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the MSU College of Human Medicine and MSU Extension.

Photo of announcement by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha of the Pediatric Public Health Initiative to a room filled with partners, media and government officials.

Announcement by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha of the Pediatric Public Health Initiative. Photo credit: ANR Communications.

What can MSU Extension do to help? We cannot reverse the damage, but we can use evidenced-based research to help Flint residents lessen the effects over time.

We can teach families how to prepare meals that help block the body’s ability to absorb lead. MSU Extension nutrition staff members have worked together with the Hurley Medical Center and the MSU College of Human Medicine to provide nutrition education. That includes developing and sharing recipes that are high in iron, calcium and Vitamin C. We’ve been sharing these recipes through our Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Education classes, as well as demonstrations at the Flint Farmers Market. MSU Extension is hiring additional staff to help childcare providers assess their facilities and improve practices related to nutrition, especially in those parts of the city where lead exposure is the highest.

We can also help families learn effective parenting strategies that promote social and emotional skills and early childhood literacy. MSU Extension’s early childhood education team will teach parents and caregivers about how to best protect their children from lead exposure in the home and how to combat the side effects through effective child development strategies. Research has long indicated that high-quality early childhood education and increased parenting capacity, is one of the best strategies to offset adverse childhood experiences and to promote school readiness. MSU Extension’s early childhood programs focus on school readiness for children from birth to age 8 by promoting social and emotional skills, early literacy, and science and math skills, and by teaching effective parenting strategies.

Research indicates that high-quality early childhood experiences, parenting education and good nutrition are critical measures we can implement today to offset damage and increase children’s likeliness of school success. Our MSU Extension colleagues are working to provide those educational experiences, and in the coming weeks and months, they will be doing even more alongside our partners in the initiative.

Want to know more about what’s going on in Flint and the Pediatric Public Health Initiative? Below are some articles that you might find interesting in learning more about the situation in Flint and our collaborative efforts surrounding it.

Efforts Will Monitor Flint Kids’ Health

Pediatrician to Lead Fight against Flint Lead Poisoning

Generation of Flint Kids with Lead in Blood May Not See Effects for Years​

New Public Health Initiative Announced in Flint

Flint Organizations Announce Pediatric Public Health Initiative

MSU and Hurley Children’s Hospital to Work Together on Flint Water Crisis Study

Flint Combats Lead-Contaminated Water Effects on Child Development


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Filed under Children and Youth, Food, health, Health and Nutrition, Nutrition, Parenting, Partnerships, Social and emotional health, Uncategorized, Youth development