30 May 2019 | Animal health
One Health + Children = Our Future
09 Jan 2020 | Deborah Thomson
Deborah Thomson DVM enjoys speaking to students about One Health. In this blog post she shares her #OneHealthinAction experiences and encourages more vets to talk to young people about this important topic.
Discovering One Health
I was sitting in a dimmed classroom at Tufts Veterinary School in the frosty winter of 2008 and a metaphorical light bulb turned on over my head. It was the first time I heard the term One Health. One Health is the collaboration of veterinarians, physicians and environmental health scientists (as well as others) to improve the health of animals, people, and the environment. I asked myself two questions: Why wasn’t I taught this when I was younger? And why are there not more people collaborating? I deduced that there are not enough people who know about One Health.
Education conquers ignorance
Like many of you, I have been translating medical jargon to clients in animal hospitals for years. Outside of my hospital hours, I create One Health lesson plans and teach school children, as an invited guest, about zoonotic diseases, epidemics, and the importance of vaccines. Children easily understand the One Health concept because it encompasses teamwork and empathy - two terms that are heavily used in education these days. In addition, these children see how scientists from different backgrounds improve the health in their community by working together. This is STEM in action as well as One Health in action! By the end of the hour-long class, students can explain the importance of One Health and teachers often request more educational material.
Following the lessons, the full-time teachers have an opportunity to provide feedback and fill out a survey about the experience. One teacher wrote: “The [One Health] lesson tied in very well with our study of animals, habitats, and watershed lessons. It let the kids know how important it is to coordinate and work together in keeping everyone healthy”; while another teacher reported that “[the One Health lesson] was … a highly engaging science lesson. It used academic language that challenged students but also didn’t leave anyone behind… Thank you for giving my students their favorite science lesson of the year.”
Spread the word
At the end of my first One Health lesson, one small girl eagerly raised her hand and asked if I “plan to teach other kids around the world about One Health?”. My answer was an emphatic “Yes! But I need your help to spread the word!”
Readers, I also request your help in providing the platform to deliver this crucial knowledge to young members in your community. We must be prepared for the future because public health is at risk. We must prepare today by educating our children.
Find out more
You can find out more information about teaching One Health in preschool, primary, and secondary schools by listening to the One Health Academy’s November 2019 webinar.
You can also learn more by contacting Deborah directly.
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