a civil society alliance for combatting chronic disease in the caribbean

Healthy Caribbean Coalition - Hands Across the Caribbean - Target 50,000

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First Published Trinidad Guardian 17th August 2010 - by Dr. Clive Dottin

  • Many organisations will form a rainbow coalition, guaranteeing the success of this lifestyle activity.
  • Wild Hollywood productions will not produce role model youth and stable homes.
  • There has never been an event in T&T completely dedicated to health.

Although we are all aware that we cannot function at out best unless our physical and mental faculties are in a good working condition, most of us take our health and wellness for granted. Often times we don’t pay attention to the needs of our bodies until it becomes absolutely necessary, or too late. (Health and Wellness Seminar on September 20-22, Carol Quash, Trinidad Guardian, August 16, 2010.

Imagine 50,000 persons throughout the Caribbean beginning the ‘HANDS ACROSS THE CARIBBEAN’ NEWSTART walk at 7:00a.m. in 25 countries, extending from St Croix in the North to Guyana & Surinam in the South.

Imagine thousands marching, drilling, dramatising, chanting and displaying their aerobic skills. Imagine thousands embracing healthy lifestyles. The theme of this Regional Festival will be “Take Charge of Your Health.” In each island, total health and wellness will be celebrated.

In Trinidad and Tobago, the walk will begin at 7:00am at the Queen’s Park Savannah. It is really Hands and Hearts Across the Caribbean. This historic event is sponsored by the Adventist Health Ministries Department of the Caribbean Union Conference and CHRPI. Many organisations will form a rainbow coalition, guaranteeing the success of this lifestyle activity including Police Youth Clubs, Emmanuel Community, Pathfinders, Master Guides, Association of Coaches, University of the Southern Caribbean, Caribbean Health Foods, Community Hospital, Loveuntil Foundation, etc.

What is the NEWSTART program? Who or what is CHRPI?

NEWSTART is a formula for a comprehensive healthy lifestyle and constitutes a profound attack against cardiovascular diseases, obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. NEWSTART represents Nutrition, Exercise, Water, Sunshine, Temperance, Air, Rest and Trust in God. NEWSTART involves the physical, emotional, social, psychological and spiritual dimensions of the individual. CHRPI is the Caribbean Health Research & Promotion Institute and is the co-sponsor of Hands Across the Caribbean.

Hands Across the Caribbean involves youth and adults who will drive the positive lifestyle message in a dramatic and dynamic display of a vast range of talents and skills. It harmonises with the Caribbean Wellness program and motivates youth to get involved in an enormous rescue mission designed to save the family.

Almost every day we are confronted with bizarre, bloody, beastly pictures of youth in the region killing and being killed. Youth smoking, drinking alcohol, fighting as they follow negative and dangerous role models in the homes as well as in the community. Stress, tears, fears, paranoia, schizophrenia, depression, suicide are contributing to a decreasing level of hope. But now we have TARGET 50,000 and Hands Across the Caribbean.

If we do not use the youth in positive, exciting activities, they will be involving in tragic, high-risk, negative activities. Therefore, Hands Across the Caribbean will begin on September 19, 2010 and continue throughout the week in schools, community centres, churches, sporting clubs, parent associations, etc

Junk food, discos, poor nutrition, promiscuous behaviour, pornographic journals, collapsing families, wild Hollywood productions will not produce role model youth and stable homes. So let us use our creative abilities to construct a new society through rebuilding the family and establishing the family altar. Let us motivate our youth to make the best choices so that they could experience real happiness and not the illusion of happiness.

If we look at the latest figures from WHO – World Health Organisation, we should be shocked. But the shock should not produce paralysis; it should provide the catalyst for urgent action. Examine the following information:

  • We have approximately 1,600 million overweight adults (older than 15) on planet earth.
  • There are at least 400 million obese adults.
  • By the year 2015 there will be some 2,300 million over weight adults, and more than 700 million obese individuals.
  • In 2005 there were at least 20 million children younger than 5 who suffered from overweight.

Tim Arnott, Dr Hans Diehl, Professor Aileen Ludington and Jorge Pamplona have produced a simple health empowerment strategy entitled, Total Health – 8 Natural Remedies. As a gift to the nation the Caribbean Health Research & Promotion Institute presents the package:

  • PURE AIR. Pure air and the habit of breathing correctly assure the body of a sufficient supply of oxygen. It is advisable to ventilate all the rooms of our homes regularly.
  • SUNLIGHT. We should be exposed to between fifteen and thirty minutes of sunlight every day, preferably during the morning hours. Sunlight helps in the production of vitamin D in the skin and destroys infectious agents in the environment. It also contributes to increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain, which helps to improve one’s spirits and fight depression.
  • ABSTINENCE FROM HARMFUL SUBSTANCES. Coffee, cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, and drugs alter the functioning of various organs of the body and predispose us to illness.
  • PROPER REST. Sleep seven to eight hours a night. Take vacations, dedicate time to recreation, enjoy a healthy pastime.
  • EXERCISE. Walk at least thirty minutes a day. Do exercise outdoors: jogging, swimming, gymnastics, bicycling.
  • NUTRITION. Combine foods so that they contain all the nutrients: carbohydrates (fifty percent of what we eat); fats, especially of vegetable origin (thirty percent); minerals and vitamins. Balance meals so that they include seeds, grains, vegetables, fruit, and nuts.
  • WATER. Apply it externally through daily baths. Drink a sufficient amount of water (between six and eight glasses, between meals).
  • TRUST IN GOD. Cultivate faith in God as a heavenly Father who is interested in the big or little problems that we face daily.

Let us keep it simple and keep it natural. It is amazing that the community and even our leaders do not give adequate attention and emphasis to the health status of our citizens. Sherine Mungal, one of the founding editors of the Caribbean Health Digest, makes a significant point on this issue that should concern every organisation in the region:-

“There has never been an event in T&T completely dedicated to health and wellness, and we the publishers of U – The Caribbean Health Digest are simply delighted to make this interactive exposition accessible to the national community. It’s all in keeping with our main objectives to create healthier people through knowledge and education. After all, what’s more important than our health?”

Real National Development must include the empowerment of our youth to make positive choices. Therefore, any attempt to produce lifestyle change must involve behaviour modification. This is the challenge that we must accept in our Region. We encourage you to support Hands Across the Caribbean.

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