As I wrote on Tuesday, yesterday was the Great American Smoke Out. Two other health related days were observed this week as well and I want to take the time here to share them. It is important to remember that any day can be the day to make a change, remember a lost friend, or share your own personal health triumphs.
Yesterday, Thursday November 21st, was Children’s Grief Awareness Day.
Before they graduate from high school, one child out of every 20 will have a parent die—and that number doesn’t include those who experience the death of a brother or sister, a close grandparent, aunt or uncle, or friend.
Children who have had someone die—especially a close family member — can feel the loss forever. They eventually go back to school. They might pick some activities back up. They certainly look “normal.” And yet there’s still that hole inside.
It often gets worse during the holiday season when the already hard feelings of longing and pain become intensified and when memories of past holidays contrast sharply with the loss of the present holiday.
Children’s Grief Awareness Day is observed every year on the third Thursday in November (the Thursday before the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving). This time of year is a particularly appropriate time to support grieving children because the holiday season is often an especially difficult time after a death.
Children’s Grief Awareness Day began in Pennsylvania at the Highmark Caring Place. Fred Rogers (the Mr. Rogers) was the honorary chairman of the Highmark Caring Foundation from its inception in 1985 until his death in 2003. Mr. Rogers was always an advocate for supporting children and their feelings about loss and grief.
Another important day that was observed this week, November 19th, was World Toilet Day. I had been aware of Matt Damon’s Toilet Strike but did not realize that this was a part of a United Nations Assembly initiative until today in my Public Health course. 2.5 billion people do not have access to a clean and safe toilet.
In 2010, the UN General Assembly recognized sanitation and water as a human right, essential to the full enjoyment of life and all other human rights. This breakthrough decision not only provides a major argument to all those sanitation advocates; it constitutes an important step towards turning these rights into a reality for everyone.
This TED Talk by Rose George, an author and speaker, helps flush out the necessity of clean and safe sanitation for everyone.
You now know about these two observances and today can be the day you start your work to support these initiatives.