My daughter, Samantha, was born with brain damage caused by hydrocephaly. The cause of the condition was not known. It’s not genetic which means that something else interfered with her normal development before she was born. The subject of children with disabilities is, and will continue to be, a recurring theme in my blog posts because the subject is so close to my heart.
Sam is a warm and spirited 24 year old woman, but she was born with cognitive deficits, gross and fine motor challenges, and is also legally blind. Sam has been a huge fan of Raffi all her life and listens to his music for hours – and for years, in the car, or when the headphones aren’t on, so did her family!
Raffi is the world’s best-selling and most influential children’s entertainer, and is the founder and chair for the Centre for Child Honouring, which integrates respect for the earth with respect for children. Their website states, “we face planetary degradation that is unprecedented in scope and scale – a state of emergency that most endangers the very young, and that requires a remedy of equal scale. This crisis calls for a systemic response in detoxifying the environments that make up the world of the child.”
Shout when the spirit says shout!
Raffi has become a champion for children’s environmental health, and recently co-wrote an article for the Huffington Post, titled Children’s Health Should Be Legally Protected From Environmental Harm. Did you know that 90 per cent of the member states in the United Nations now recognize the right to a healthy environment through laws, constitutions, treaties, or court decisions? But, not Canada, the United States, Australia or China. Why are we on the same list as China when it comes to protecting our environment?
Food on the farm, fish in the sea
Birds in the air, leaves on the tree
The concept of the Human Right to a Healthy Environment is not new. It actually was conceived in 1962 by Rachel Carson in her famous book, Silent Spring, which blew the whistle on the damage being caused by pesticides to animals, including humans. Over 50 years ago she stated:
“If the Bill of Rights contains no guarantees that a citizen shall be secure against lethal poisons distributed either by private individuals or by public officials, it is surely only because our forefathers, despite their considerable wisdom and foresight, could conceive of no such problem.”
Inch by inch, row by row
Our present government leaders cannot claim ignorance. There is no wisdom or foresight because they purposely choose to ignore the problem. In fact, our ability to develop policy, law, and programs in Canada, that are based on scientific evidence and facts, has been compromised by political interference and muzzling of scientists. It is not surprising that this present government is also opposed to initiating a Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights to ensure that our children have a healthier environment it thrive in.
Children are more vulnerable to the effects of chemicals because they have greater exposures relative to adults, immature detoxification systems, and still-maturing organ systems.
They also have a higher metabolic rate, meaning that, relative to their size, they eat, drink, and breathe more than adults.
This land is made for you and me
Scientific studies are showing negative effects from prenatal and early childhood exposures to air and water pollution, food contamination and toxic chemicals in consumer products. These exposures are changing the function of genes. There has been a significant rise in chronic complex conditions in childhood. The number of children with developmental disabilities, such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other developmental delays, is increasing. Pollution exposures are also contributing to the rise in birth defects, childhood asthma, leukemia, childhood obesity, type 2 diabetes, and brain cancer. Presently one child in six is being diagnosed with a developmental disability. Over the past decade, the prevalence has increased by 17 percent!
Now’s the time to rise and shine
To increase public awareness of this appalling phenomenon, Raffi, along with author Margaret Atwood, musicians Neil Young, Blue Rodeo and Jim Cuddy, humanitarian Stephen Lewis, and many others are on a speaking/concert tour with David Suzuki. The goal is to engage Canadians, with the ultimate aim of having “the right to breathe fresh air, drink clean water and eat healthy food” added to the Canadian Charter.
We need an Environmental Bill of Rights. We need our governments to do a better job in protecting human health. We can learn from my daughter Sam, and listen to Raffi, because have environmental rights, even before they are born.