Monthly Archives: August 2015

Edible Schoolyard: Inspiration For A Lifetime

by on August 25, 2015

Bring something beautiful to the classroom. Bring a bouquet, set things up differently with a beautiful table cloth and a lovely basket of fruit. Prepare the classroom, the kitchen and the garden, so kids fall in love. –  Alice Waters /Founder, Edible Schoolyard Academy

I was filled with excitement as I made my way across the Bay Bridge to Berkeley, about to fulfill lifetime dream: attending the Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard Academy (ESY). As a wellness/
nutrition coach for the PJCC, I was one of three given the incredible honor of representing the PJCC to help develop a nutrition and food awareness curriculum for local elementary schools. Our motivation came from California State Senator Jerry Hill D-San Mateo when he visited the PJCC’s Justice Garden. Impressed with our endeavor to promote food justice and education, the Senator expressed his support in helping the PJCC share our curriculum with local elementary schools. Garnering the tools for creating this curriculum was our goal at ESY.

Helping Healthy Habits Take Root
The Edible Schoolyard (ESY) program teaches youngsters how their choices about food affect their health, the environment, and their communities. Now in its 17th year, ESY is the brainchild of Alice Waters, the chef/proprietor of the Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley. Waters is a passionate voice and pioneer in the culinary movement that supports cooking with only the finest and freshest seasonal ingredients that are produced sustainably and locally. Housed at Berkeley’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School, the abandoned teachers’ parking lot was once a neighborhood eyesore, but today is home to a lush and meandering one-acre garden and kitchen/classroom. Students are actively involved in every aspect of food’s life cycle, from planting a seed in the garden and preparing simple meals in the kitchen to using the food waste to produce rich compost to nourish the plants. These essential life skills are priceless and have made the ESY the model program for farm-to-table education. “Farm to school” is a term that defines school efforts to incorporate local and regionally produced foods into school cafeterias. In 2011-2012, a USCA survey of 13,000 public school districts showed that 44 percent across the country have such a program in place. This is exciting news, but in a country where child obesity is on the rise, we still have a long way to go.

Go Slow and Go Deep
ESY educates the educators: the more ambassadors on the front lines, the better to reach the children. At the academy alone, there were over 90 enthusiastic attendees from around the world. However, we were cautioned to “Go slow and go deep.” Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor was the ESY. We should start small, in a corner of the playground or in a few gardening
pots outside a classroom. Let the kids get their hands dirty. Appeal to all their senses, with the taste, smell, sound and sight of fresh produce grown with care and prepared simply.

From ESY to the PJCC
I’m excited to bring my ESY education to the PJCC. When I spoke with Alice Waters, I asked if she had any additional advice as we begin introducing ESY concepts to our students. “I always say we need to work with kids in kindergarten through grade 12,” she replied. “But what I really mean is, get to them at age two. Start at this age and you have them for life.”

The PJCC is always on the lookout for ways to incorporate healthy habits into everyday life. We adopted the Discover CATCH program into our childrens’ programming. CATCH, an acronym for Coordinated Approach to Childhood Health, is an educational program created by University of Texas School of Public Health in response to the rising obesity epidemic in our country. CATCH uses a combination of kid’s nutrition and fitness activities as tools to teach children how to lead healthy and active lives. Recently, the Jewish Community Center Association adopted Discover CATCH, an expansion of CATCH that allows children to explore physical activity and nutrition through Jewish values, instilling healthy habits in children and their families for wellness their way.

Special Needs Tips – Come As You Are!

by on August 20, 2015

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Every month features an awareness day for different special needs. World Down Syndrome Day in March, National Spina Bifida Awareness in October, and Autism Awareness in April. These are just a few of the many special needs that families are dealing with each day. It’s hard to know what a special needs family goes through unless you are one. So, we’ve asked one family to tell us how it really is and what can make families with special needs feel supported and included in the general community.

By Diana Blank Epstein and David Epstein

It is on ongoing struggle for families with special needs children to find acceptance, understanding and inclusion in the wider community and, as a result, families can experience isolation and alienation, which only adds to their sense of despair and grief about having a child with challenges.

Yet, there is much that people can do to support and include special needs families. We believe that many do want to reach out and include individuals with disabilities but just don’t know what to say or how to interact.

Based on our own personal experience, our “special” friends, and what we hear in the local autism community, here are some helpful guidelines to enrich all of our interactions.

 ACKNOWLEDGE

Just making an effort to acknowledge the special needs child (rather than avoiding the child/family) and some interactive attempts at engaging the child, go a long way in making the family feel like a part of the community. It can be as simple as smiling at the child, greeting the child, giving a high five and making a positive comment about the child.Special needs families are particularly sensitive about negative comments which can easily put a parent in defense mode. Best to keep in mind that these are children and parents who are under very different stressors than the typical family and are generally working double time to help their child overcome multiple challenges.

  • Try asking neutral questions which show genuine interest in the child and are seen as supportive (ie: Where is your child going to school?, What activities does he like? What do you need to feel comfortable and accommodated here?).

NORMALIZE

Normalizing a special needs child’s behaviors is comforting for parents and really facilitates the inclusion process. For example, last summer at Camp Keff it was reassuring for me to hear camp counselors say “all the kids get loud at camp….Joshua fits right in.” Sometimes community members will remark on what they do to meet their own sensory needs, validating that we all have habits we engage in to calm ourselves (ie: Joshua uses an attachable chewy for oral sensory needs, while others chew gum to meet their oral needs or to calm themselves).

  • Just normalizing that we all have good days and bad days and that we all struggle, at some level, in expressing our needs and wants. The simple act of not reacting when a child with special needs acts differently or may be having a meltdown is very helpful (ie: our son Joshua has a sensory need involving tapping on objects. We feel supported when people understand this need and let it be “no big deal”, while we make efforts to redirect him, take him somewhere else if it gets too loud, or just let him engage in this behavior if it not disruptive in that particular setting).

DON’T EVALUATE

Although perhaps well meaning, we appreciate when people steer clear of questions that make the families feel that they are being evaluated. We already are evaluated so much by school districts and insurance companies. We just want to “be” when we are in the community. For example, asking “how bad is your child’s condition” or “where is your child on the spectrum?”, puts us in a position where the focus is on the child’s impairments and disability, rather than the child as a human being first.

  • Instead, try asking about the child’s likes and dislikes and what we enjoy doing as a family unit. If anything, comment on the special needs child’s positive qualities and acheivements.

AVOID PITY

And, while we know people are trying to be compassionate, most of us find pity comments unsupportive. Comments such as “I can’t imagine what your life is like,” “We thought we had issues with our kids” and “I’m so sorry that this happened to your family” are taken as derogatory towards the child, hurtful to the family, and create a situation where a family experiences a greater sense of exclusion.

  • What can be helpful is to ask if a family needs personal space or needs extra assistance, when their child with special needs is having a tough time behaviorally in the community. Everyone has different needs and communicating with the family about what particular needs and accommodations are supportive for that specific family, can really help a family feel supported by their community.

As a rule, use the “person first philosophy” for people with any disability. Put the person first, before the disability. Try to see our children as representing neurodiversity (human variance). Like anyone, all we hope for is our children and families feeling accepted and respected for who they are and who they are becoming. Come as you are! Our strength is in our diversity afterall.

 

Diana Blank Epstein is an LCSW who works as a clinical supervisor and is on staff at JFCS, where one of her roles is developing and teaching special-need workshops for parents. David Epstein is a Software Quality Assurance Engineer who has worked for a variety of companies in Silicon Valley. Diana and David have two adorable children, Rachel and Joshua. Rachel has entered the 5th grade in a Montessori program. Joshua has entered the 3rd grade in a special day class. They are both well-adjusted and happy children, who are loved and accepted for who they are.

 

 

 

 

Lentil, Parsley, and Mint Summer Salad

by on August 13, 2015

This is one of my favorite salads to bring to a BBQ or picnic. With only 130 calories per ½ cup serving and 6 gr of protein, this dish will be the hit with friends and family, who will be thanking you for bringing something healthy while they ask you for the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • ½ cup finely chopped red onion
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh mint
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Juice of one lemon

Directions

  1. Place lentils in a large saucepan.
  2. Cover with water to 2 inches above lentils; bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until tender. Drain well and rinse.
  4. Place lentils in a large bowl.
  5. Stir in onion and next 4 ingredients (through pepper).
  6. Add vinegar, oil and lemon juice; toss well.
  7. Serve at room temperature.

Airplane Emergency

by on August 6, 2015

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“Is there a doctor on the plane; is there a doctor on the plane?!” The urgent sounding voice rang over the loudspeakers on the jet about thirty minutes into our flight from Frankfurt, Germany to San Francisco. My wife nudged me just as I was trying to arrange my body for sleep in preparation for the fourteen hour voyage. I pressed the call button unsure what emergency I was volunteering for. The next thing I knew I was face to face with the flight attendant who had recently served me orange juice. She explained to me that she was the one who needed medical attention, and she escorted me toward the tail section of the plane where we ascended into a private sick-bay alcove. She proceeded to tell me her story. A year prior to this, she had been hospitalized for a week with a kidney infection, and she was experiencing similar symptoms once again. She had back pain and urinary symptoms, and was desperate for help. I suspected that for her to have been hospitalized for so long previously, the kidney infection must have been complicated by septicemia (bacteria in the bloodstream). When she came to work this day, she had mild urinary symptoms which she thought she could ignore, but now she had a full blown problem. She handed me the emergency medical briefcase that airlines carry onboard, but all it contained were cardiac medicines and injectable opiate analgesics. No antibiotics. What was I going to do to help her? Soon we would be crossing the ocean and there would be no option for emergency landing.

In a New England Journal of Medicine study published on May 30, 2013, it was estimated that there is one in-flight medical emergency for every 604 commercial airplane flights, and overall, there are approximately 44,000 medical emergencies each year world-wide. Serious illness is infrequent, and death rare (3 per 1000 cases). The most common illness causes in order of frequency are fainting and near fainting, respiratory symptoms, nausea or vomiting, cardiac symptoms, seizures, abdominal pain, and infection (such as in my patient). Other in-flight emergencies include agitation or psychiatric symptoms, allergic reactions (better not bring peanuts onboard), stroke, trauma, diabetic complications, headache, arm or leg injuries, Ob-Gyn symptoms, ear pain, cardiac arrest, and lacerations.

You can never be certain that a physician or other medical professional will be on your flight if a medical situation arises. If you feel moderately sick before you start a long airplane trip, chances are that you will feel even worse during the journey so it would be wise to cancel and request a written note from your doctor. If you take medicines, bring them in your carry-on, not in your packed luggage. If you have a past history of a serious infection which required hospitalization, bring antibiotics with you. My flight attendant patient was totally unprepared.

For cardiac emergencies, the airplane I was on was well equipped. There was an automated external defibrillator (AED), oxygen, epinephrine, and a variety of other cardiac medicines. I was dismayed that there were no medicines for infections. In order to help my patient I needed a strong antibiotic that I hoped a well-organized passenger had brought along. I asked nearby passengers for Cipro 500 mg, and fortunately someone volunteered the medicine. All we needed were two doses. Meanwhile, my patient’s kidney infection was causing her significant pain, so I also asked if there was a nurse on board to administer an injectable narcotic. Luckily a kind Kaiser dialysis nurse offered his expertise.

The pilot of the plane spoke to me. We would be flying over Reykjavik, Iceland soon, and this would be our last opportunity for an emergency landing. The pilot put me in touch with a United Airlines land physician in Chicago. I explained to him that everything was under control now that a passenger had donated Cipro. Normally, when one presents to the ER with a serious kidney infection, IV Cipro is administered because it is a faster way to get the medicine into the body. Whether Cipro is given IV or orally, it should have equal efficacy which I discussed with the airline’s physician. I did not think diverting the plane for emergency landing was indicated, and the airline’s physician concurred. During the reminder of the flight I checked my patient every two hours to make sure her vital signs were stable and that she was comfortable. With the help of the narcotic, she slept most of the way to San Francisco. –at least one of us got some rest. – I always feel elated when airplane wheels touch land, and this time I breathed an extra sigh of relief.

I didn’t ask United Airlines for any compensation for volunteering my medical care, but they sent me a $200 voucher anyway. Two weeks later I received a wonderful thank you letter from my patient. It was reaffirming to know that she had completely recovered.

Jerry Saliman, MD is a volunteer internist at Samaritan House Medical Clinic in San Mateo. He retired from Kaiser South San Francisco after working there more than 30 years. While at Kaiser SSF, Dr. Saliman was also Chief of Patient Education. He received the 2012 “Lifetime Achievement Award” given by the Kaiser SSF Medical Staff.

Editing acknowledgement: Ellen Saliman

Neither the PJCC or our guest columnists provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please make your health care decisions in partnership with your health care provider