Frederick County Pediatrics Initiatives
FCP & Dr. James Lee want to recognize and promote national and local initiatives that encourage healthy child development – both physically and psychologically.
1) Importance of Early Childhood Reading & Literacy
Possibly one of the most important developmental areas that parents can directly impact on is stimulating language and speech development through reading to your child. We now know that even in pre-verbal infants and toddlers, exposure to language plays a key role in learning, speech development and an overall higher IQ. Reading to your child is the gift that keeps on giving – in so many ways!
Central to this mission is our participation in ROR (Reach out and Read) – a nationally recognized organization that promotes early childhood literacy by sponsoring free books for all our patients between six months and five years at their well visits. We have expanded upon this to develop a “reading garden” in our waiting room that includes a lender library for our patients (and their siblings/friends) and posting activities and programs sponsored by Frederick County Public Libraries.
2) Nature Awareness and Increased Outdoor Play Activities
Another key initiative for our practice is promoting nature awareness and outdoor play. Our changing lifestyles have unfortunately made outdoor play and nature activities less common and less a priority in our society. The impact of this is profound and affects us physically/emotionally and undermines our role as protectors and stewards of our planet.
Docs in the Park (DITP) is a small way to get some of that back. DITP is a developing national initiative that encourages doctors and their practices to promote and participate in outdoor activities and nature programs with their patients. DITP in our community has worked closely with our local Parks & Rec. Dept. to develop programs and events that meet the DITP mission of nature awareness, increased outdoor play and exercise plus an emphasis on good nutrition/eating habits and quality family time.
We have posted DITP materials throughout the office and it’s our hope to see you out there! Additionally, FCP is an ongoing sponsor for the nationally recognized Girls on the Run (GOTR) program and also supports annual 5K spring runs at our local elementary schools.
3) The Power of Play and Promotion of Healthy Child Development
It may seem strange that this topic even needs to be raised to the level of a practice initiative but societal changes and pressures on our time have pushed this topic to the forefront of current pediatric concerns. Play, of all types and in different settings, is vital for overall child development. Play is more than just fun for children, it is integral to every aspect of growth and development. Play needs to be integrated into your child’s daily life and goes hand in hand with current recommendations and concerns regarding media and screen exposure and our linked initiative promoting positive family engagement activities.
4) Family Engagement & Positive Parenting Practices in our Office and our Community
What links all our initiatives together? Every child is part of a family. Families can come in all shapes and sizes but the fundamentals of family functioning is the same. Every family has unique strengths and challenges. Building on those strengths and promoting positive parenting practices is central for healthy child development. Some of those positive parenting practices can be learned or observed inside our office by our anticipatory guidance recommendations in addition to books, articles and parenting classes that we offer or encourage. Our community, too, is critical in the promotion of these values and we try to engage or encourage participation in community events and programs that share these fundamentals. Healthy children come from healthy families that live in healthy communities. Our hope and goal is to promote and advocate for positive parenting concepts and programs that fosters well being for our families and our community.
5) Maintain Awareness and Advocacy for New and Emerging Trends in Pediatrics and how they may Impact our Long-term Health and Well-being
Much has changed in pediatrics over the past generation. Disease treatment has been increasingly replaced by disease prevention and understanding the impact that our lifestyles and other psycho-social factors have on both our short- and long-term health and well-being is the new center piece of 21st century pediatrics. Conditions relatively unknown to us previously are now significant health and well-being concerns. Examples include the impact of obesity, behavioral and mental health conditions and developing issues such as excessive media and screen exposure. They all get their foothold in childhood even if their effects are not apparent until later in life. We are further learning that other psycho-social events, occurring as early as prenatally, directly interact or contribute to these conditions and can even have generational impact on our health (Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACEs).
The interaction of the so-called social determinates of health and the impact of non-medical factors on our health and well-being is altering our approach and understanding of medical care today. Your zip code is as critical to your health outcome as your medical condition and all these factors collectively can have a profound effect on our response to stress- both medically and psychologically – both now and in the future – both for us and our progeny. Wow!
Understanding and appreciating these issues, at both the local and national level, requires a new approach and strategy to understanding health care needs. It requires new partners and a new “toolkit” beyond our traditional doctors’ bag.
All the initiatives above are ultimately tied to this. In some ways the solutions are relatively simple – reading, appropriate play for age, the importance of getting outside and connecting to nature – really are straightforward. We can all do this, but we must make it a priority, both individually and as a community. We must offer that connection to our children.