Every child in Tennessee deserves to be as healthy as they can be; from the food they eat to the words they hear, kids need a lot of support, resources and opportunities to grow. The last two years have created challenges for many Tennesseans. For so many families, proper nutrition, regular exercise and even routine doctor or dental visits have gone out the window out of concern or fear of being exposed to COVID-19. Despite the global pandemic, there are ways to encourage healthy habits and activities!
Each year the Tennessee Department of Health encourages all Tennesseans to host or engage in activities that promote the health and well being of children, teenagers and their families during Child Health Month (CHM).
Throughout the month of October, Tennesseans can participate in these contests, activities and virtual resources;
- Use #TNchildhealthmonth2021 to celebrate your family's healthy moments on social media!
- A Child Health Month toolkit featuring ideas to participate in CHM, including many social distancing ideas, social media messages, complimentary resources and much more!
- Encourage individuals to Re-Think Your Drink by promoting the consumption of healthy beverages.
- Participate in the #SafeSleepSnapTN Contest between Tennessee’s three grand divisions: West, Middle, and East. Have fun while helping Tennesseans learn the ABCs of safe sleep: Alone, on their Back, and in a Crib.
- Participate in Dance Across Tennessee! The event will give Tennesseans the opportunity to get moving. Everyone is invited to join in a dance to have fun and encourage families, children and youth to be active while maintaining local social distancing guidelines.
Visit Tennessee’s Child Health Month website for more details about activities on this list.
COVID-19 is not over yet.
As we move towards the holiday season and into our second year of the global pandemic it will be important to continue to practice pandemic era health practices; wash your hands, practice social distancing and wear a mask. The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention says wearing cloth masks in public remains one of the most important practices you can do to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Remember that children mimic the actions of the adults and caregivers in their lives. Parents can set a good example by wearing cloth masks themselves. It can also be an opportunity to teach children about the importance of protecting others.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently answered five questions about kids and masks.
1. Can wearing a mask make it harder for my child to breathe?
No. Cloth masks are made from breathable materials that will not block the oxygen your child needs. Masks will not affect your child's ability to focus or learn in school. The vast majority of children age 2 or older can safely wear a cloth face covering for extended periods of time, such as the school day or at childcare. This includes children with many medical conditions.
2. Can masks interfere with a child's lung development?
No, wearing a cloth face covering will not affect your child's lungs from developing normally. Keeping your child's lungs healthy is important, which includes preventing infections like COVID-19.
3. Do masks trap the carbon dioxide that we normally breathe out?
No. There have been false reports that cloth face coverings can lead to carbon dioxide poisoning (known as hypercapnia) from re-breathing the air we normally breathe out. But this is not true. Carbon dioxide molecules are very tiny, even smaller than respiratory droplets. They cannot be trapped by breathable materials like cloth masks.
4. Can masks lead to a weaker immune system by putting the body under stress?
No. Wearing a cloth face covering does not weaken your immune system or increase your chances of getting sick if exposed to the COVID-19 virus. Wearing a cloth face covering, even if you do not have symptoms of COVID-19, helps prevent the virus from spreading.
5. How do masks prevent the spread of COVID-19?
When worn correctly, cloth masks create a barrier that reduces the spray of a person's spit and respiratory droplets. These droplets play a key role in the spread of COVID-19 because they can carry SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Masks also can protect you from others who may have coronavirus but are not showing symptoms and who could come within 6 feet of you, which is how far respiratory droplets can travel when people sneeze or cough or raise their voices.
Another benefit of wearing masks is that they may keep people from touching their mouths and faces, which is another way COVID-19 can be spread. There are many types of masks, but cloths masks are best choice for the general public and families should choose a mask that is most comfortable while still providing a secure fit.