Striving to Stay Healthy in Chumpón

The Art of Conservation (AoC) team and I leave our office on Monday and Wednesday afternoons and travel 60 kilometers south of Tulum to a beautiful Maya village called Chumpón. In this pueblo, with its enormous Ceiba tree in the middle, approximately 750 people reside. 

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Our students gather around the enormous Ceiba tree (Ceiba pentandra) which is the most sacred tree to the Maya as a wild medicinal plant and as an energy connection with the Cosmos, Earth, and the Underworld.

Serious health threats face the community of Chumpón. Statistics show that the average income of our partnering families does not cover basic health, education, food, housing, clothing, and public transportation needs. AoC appreciates the opportunity to try to break some of these devastating trends through our Creative Learning & Conservation Education programs. We strongly believe that starting early - our students are on average 10-years of age - is a path to preventing some of these challenges and ultimately attaining a better future.

We begin our program by leaning more about our daily personal hygiene habits and why they are essential to staying healthy - we've all been there; parents reminding us to cover our mouth when we cough or sneeze, wash our hands, wash our bodies, brush our teeth, clean up our room, pick up the trash, eat a healthy diet, and get regular exercise!

But the fact remains that Chumpón families are sick many days out of the month. Additionally, families may not be able to afford a visit to the doctor, hence the importance of AoC's proactive approach to preventing common illnesses by practicing good hygiene. Please see below a snapshot of some of our 'staying healthy' lessons.

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Learning how to wash our hands.

The CDC states about 1.8 million children die before the age of 5 every year from diarrheal diseases and pneumonia. Handwashing with soap could protect about 1 out of every 3 of those with diarrhea sickness and 1 out of 5 with respiratory infections like pneumonia. 

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Learning how to brush our teeth and keeping away infections.

We provide supplies which are not readily available to our students, such as soap, toothbrush and paste.
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Javier, our teacher-in-training at Escuela Primaria Jacinto Pat, with the children who are prepared to pick up trash in the schoolyard.

Filthy and dirty places are a breeding ground for mosquito-borne diseases such as Malaria, Chikungunya, Dog Heartworm, Dengue, Yellow fever, and Zika Virus, to name a few. We teach the children the importance of keeping a clean home and removing reservoirs of stagnant water. Simply removing the stagnant water will relieve the chance of mosquito-born viruses.

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Learning about different food groups and the importance of eating a variety of food every day.

One of the leading health issues in the Mexican youth today is obesity and diabetes. It is extremely important that our students understand the importance of a healthy diet by eating a variety of foods every day.

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AoC incorporates getting regular exercise in our daily hygiene habits which will not only help our physical fitness but our complete well-being.

As you can see, the Art of Conservation team is a very caring team. We do all that we can to effectively teach the children and to bring about change in our participants’ attitudes and behaviors so that we achieve a healthier community.

Please support our efforts. Coming up, Giving Tuesday, November 2016. Please keep us in mind.

All my best, 
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Julie Ghrist
Founder, Executive Director

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