Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Get Toxic Chemicals Out of Our Lives

Clinton Hill, the original Defender of the Planet and the boy who started Kids for Saving Earth, was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor at age 10. Even at that young age, he believed the cause may have been environmental, incited by toxic chemicals used in everyday products.

Clinton Hill
Cancer took Clinton's life in 1989; he was 11 years old. Now, over twenty years later, we are learning more and more about how cancer-causing agents are in a staggering amount of the products we use on a daily basis. From common cleaning supplies to the clothes we buy -- even shower curtains contain toxic chemicals.

And, right now, it's completely legal for companies to use known cancer-causing agents in the products purchased every day in America.

Take Action. Let's get these chemicals out of our lives and out of our environment.

Tell others about these harmful chemicals. Kids for Saving Earth has an online resource page that includes a complete presentation to learn more and educate others about toxins in the environment. Click here to access these resources from Kids for Saving Earth.

Another great resource page from Kids for Saving Earth is this collection of fact sheets and articles, submitted by our own members.

Next, tell our nation's leaders to protect us from harmful productsHealthy Legacy, a coalition dedicated to getting toxins out of everyday products, has put together a petition to send to President Obama, urging him to make it a priority to protect us from cancer-causing chemicals in the products we use. Make your voice heard and sign the petition.

Finally, consider these facts from Healthy Legacy:
  • 1.5 million American men, women, and children were diagnosed with cancer in 2009; 562,000 died from the disease
  • Cancer is the leading cause of death from disease in children younger than 15
  • Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer
  • In 2009, cancer cost the nation $243.4 billion; half of that, $124.8 billion, is the cost of lost productivity due to premature death.
While Clinton is no longer with us, his dream of a healthy planet lives on. Help us continue to make his dream become a reality.

Healthy Kids - a curriculum and resources from KSE on toxins in our environment
Health Wave - a collection of articles, fact sheets, and more resources from KSE on the effects of toxins on children's health
President Obama, Protect Us From Cancer-Causing Chemicals - blog post from Healthy Legacy with petition urging President Obama to make cancer prevention a priority by acting to protect us from cancer-causing chemicals.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Winter by Candlelight

Every winter, without fail, an epidemic sweeps across our great state of Minnesota. It’s not spread person-to-person - quite the contrary, in fact; it is partly spread by the lack of contact with one another. Symptoms include irritability, forgetfulness, drowsiness, and intense boredom. It is most prevalent in the dark days after Christmas, during the statistically coldest month of the year, January.

It’s Cabin Fever.

There is a cure, however, and more and more people are discovering that it works. It’s simple, just a two-word prescription: Get outside.

The Friends of Wild River State Park wish to help to administer this treatment. Every year since 1992, on the Minnesota side of the St. Croix River, the Friends host the Wild River State Park Candlelight Ski, Snowshoe, and Hike, an event that takes place after that early January sunset - around 5pm - and, as the name would suggest, includes six miles of candlelit snowy trails for cross-country skiers, snow-shoers, and hikers - families, couples, and friends.

This year, about 1,300 people braved the single-digit Fahrenheit temps to breathe the fresh air, gaze at the nearly-full moon in the clear night, hear the crunch of the snow underneath their feet, and treat their cabin fever. Winter looks and feels a lot better when you’re out in it, playing in the snow, and it’s a warm feeling to be among so many others in the cold, making the most of the dark season’s beauty.

As beautiful as it is, the single-digit temps still infringe on fingers and toes. So up on Amador Prairie, one of the better star-gazing points in the park, an over-sized bonfire roared in the snow, quickly warming the surrounding park-goers.

Inside the Trail Center, another asylum from the cold, live acoustic guitar music was played while friends and family gathered for an indoor picnic. Every year, there is a cross-country ski raffle, all the proceeds of which go to support recreational and educational programs in the park.

A one-mile ski, snowshoe, or hike from the Trail Center, through the snow-covered prairie, into the deciduous forest, the moon still lighting the way through the bare trees, lies the Visitor Center. Inside, refreshments, acoustic music, a warm fire, and a showing of a live screech owl delighted folks in the warm and busy center.

Candlelight events are a bright way to get people, families, and whole communities out of their homes, where the walls seem to start closing in, to be outside with their neighbors. If you happen to be in Minnesota, many other state parks hold candlelight events. Find a list of upcoming events on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website. If you don’t live in Minnesota, check out your own state’s park resources.

Tessa Hill, president of Kids for Saving Earth, helped coordinate and volunteered at the event. As a board member of the Friends of Wild River State Park, she believes that it is very important to help preserve and increase the quality of our parks. With the help of several volunteers from the North Branch High School Honor Society, hundreds of people were introduced to the beauty of this park, and are thus more likely to support it and work to protect it. Tessa encourages all of you to volunteer, support, and enjoy your parks.

How do you support your parks? How do you treat Cabin Fever during the cold winter months? Comment below!