HOPE Initiative stimulates young
minds on health and environment
It has become evident in recent years
that health and environment should be our major concerns if our planet and
humanity have to survive and prosper. We continue to burn fuel recklessly,
generate tons of CO2, clear forests for biofuels and cattle, use
chemical toxins in everyday life, and pollute our rivers. The price we pay are
the polluted air and water we breathe and drink, warming of the globe with its
environmental changes, increased frequency of diseases such as diabetes and
blood pressure, and the steep steady rise in a variety of cancers.
While most adults read about these
issues in magazines and newspapers and occasionally discuss them over dinner,
their ways and attitudes have not shown much change. Students, on the other
hand, constitute 40% of the population, have fresher minds, are more receptive
to new ideas and may pick up the attitudes that may keep them and the world
healthy, if, and only if, they are sounded in time. HOPE Initiative therefore,
aims at creating awareness on health and environment related issues in students
and try to reach out to the community through the school-to-community approach.
Students, being the torch bearers of the next generation, are more likely to
take the right decisions to protect our planet than the elders of today.
It all started in November 2004 in
Lucknow with a small group of doctors, educationists and philanthropists forming
a group to achieve this goal. With the acronym for Health Oriented Programs and
Education, HOPE Initiative was born (www.hope.org.in).
Over the years it has grown from a small initiative working in around 30 urban
schools in Lucknow to a stage when it is targeting 1000 schools across 10
districts of Uttar Pradesh by 2010.
HOPE Initiative focuses on 10 health
related topics which it feels, every young citizen should be aware of: lifestyle
related diseases, environment, fast food and obesity, sanitation and hygiene,
healthy Holi and safe Diwali, Hepatitis B, road traffic accidents, examination
stress and TAD (tobacco, alcohol and drugs).
Safe and colourful festival ‘Holi'
festival of colours brings with it lots of joy and fun every year. The vibrant
colours and sweets that form an integral part of this festival, also often bring
with them health hazards when toxic chemicals are used or while binging on
excessive fatty sweets. HOPE Initiative has been drawing the attention of
students to the harmful effects of toxic chemical colours that often cause harm
to eyes, skin and kidneys, and urging their replacement with soothing herbal
colours. Our message
for Eco Holi is "Play Holi Safely". Posters carrying these messages are put up
on notice board of schools a few days before HOLI. This year these posters were
displayed in 75 schools of Lucknow, Sitapur, Rae Bareli and Barabanki. Attention
of children is drawn not only to the toxic effects of chemical colours to the
individual’s body but to the environment as well, as they do not wash away
easily, get mixed in drains and sewage systems and pollute water bodies and the
soil. The spirit of Holi therefore needs to be restored by making it safer and
healthier too. Hope Initiative has been fortunate enough to get the desired
support from the school authorities in spreading awareness.
Healthy Traditional Snacks
Gorging on “gujias” (a preparation of
sweet) is a part of Holi celebrations, but with India becoming the Diabetic
capital of the world and 10% of our school children being obese, can they be
made less greasy and less fattening? A special pre-Holi cooking session
organized in SGPGI for mothers and wives had Mrs Smitha Singh, a dietician from
Nutrionvista, give tips on how to prepare healthier gujias and snacks!
Safe and Happy Diwali - The Eco-friendly way
Diwali is another important national
festival to celebrate the victory of good over evil but unfortunately during
this time the environment has to pay for our festivities. The celebration style
has imposed many negative effects on the environment resulting into excessive
air pollution, noise pollution, soil pollution, and excessive power
Besides these environmental effects
the modern style of celebrating Diwali also leads to various health hazards.
These include hearing loss, high blood pressure, sleeping
disturbances, Asthma, headache, eye related problems etc.
To make the Diwali celebrations
eco-friendly, Hope organized poster-making competition in some of the schools in
Lucknow, Sitapur and Rae Bareli by involving the children to come up and share
their views about protecting the environment during the celebration and also
reducing the health hazards associated with the festivities. In 70 schools of
Lucknow, Sitapur and Raebareli the posters on Safe and Happy Diwali were put up
for the school children and the staff. It imparted information on health hazards
associated with bursting of crackers and its impact on environment. It also
contained messages regarding safety precautions for safe Diwali.
To spread a word for celebrating
Diwali in a healthy way, by way of propagating healthy food habits, a stall
was put up in the Diwali mela organized on the eve of Diwali at the SGPGI
campus. The mela was organized for the SGPGI employees and their families. This
was to practically demonstrate ways of preparing low calorie food. The students
of Hotel Management Institute prepared snacks with slight variation to make them
more healthy and tasty. This was to inculcate a habit of consuming and preparing
low calorie food during the festival season to avoid health problems.
Sanitation & Hygiene - Health and Environmental
Sanitation and hygiene is another major health
concern. There are several govt. programs running to address these problems but
still there is lot that needs to be done. Hope Initiative with the intention to
spread the message for adopting healthy practices for a healthy living, took an
initiative to conduct poster making competition and to organize lectures and
Interactive sessions with students for creating awareness about the issue. The
programs aimed to inculcate healthy sanitation habits among school children and
their families and propagate the adverse effect of unhealthy sanitation
practices on the environment and the ways of improving the sanitary habits and
its impact on overall wellbeing.
World Health Day 2008 & Global Warming
On the Occasion of the World Health Day 2008, the
issue of Global warming was addressed in the programmes. Hope conducted programs
in various schools of Lucknow to propagate the, impact of Global warming on the
health. This was a concern raised by WHO for 2008, HOPE took the issue to
students for their views through debates and extempore competitions organized in
schools. The students did research on the topics such as “Global environmental
change is a greater concern for health today than life style related disorders”
and “Tackling Global warming: role of students” and came up with facts and
figures that were thought provoking. Depleting natural resources pose potential
hazards for the society and causes climatic change and Global warming, it is
important to involve and mobilize children for taking steps in their own way to
protect the environment. On the occasion of the World Earth Day HOPE showed the
documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” by Al Gore which is all about the climate
change and its overall impact on the environment. Hope Initiative has also been
instrumental in motivating school children for planting trees in and around
their surroundings. During the World ecology week a plantation drive was
organized for the school children.
General Health & the Environment Around
Associating environmental degradation with health
will surely draw the attention of masses towards this burning issue, and by
creating awareness, the citizens can be mobilized to join in wholeheartedly in
this movement, for making the society a healthier and better place to live in.
Creating a generation with positive patterns
‘HOPE Initiative’ believes that by creating
awareness amongst school children we can bring about change in their attitude
and build a healthy society by addressing the relevant issues which have impact
on our well being.
Professor & Head, Department of Gastroenterology,
Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate
Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow-226014, India