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It is never easy to see a child who has possibly been sexually abused. It's especially not easy when the family tells you that no one other than family members have every been with, cared for, or babysat the child. As a pediatrician, I have had to see the pain on a mother's face that not only does she need to consider her child may have been abused, but also it may have been by someone close to her, someone she loves. It's heart wrenching for everyone involved. Such was the case today. It moved me to write this, as many people need help or information.
This past Saturday, the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center presented a study that revealed that children in single-parent families are 50% more likely to return for hospital care of their asthma than children in two-parent homes. This was presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) annual meeting in Boston.
The study also revealed that children were more likely to return for hospital care for their asthma, if their family's annual income was less than $60,000 a year.
This study, presented at the ACAAI annual meeting, has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. Therefore, it can only be considered a preliminary report. However, pediatricians see this every day; there is a definite socio-economic impact on childhood asthma. In general, single-parent families are more overwhelmed and have less of an income than two-parent families. Who is there to take turns when it comes to missing work, administering medications, and catching up on much needed sleep when caring for a sick child? This is yet another reminder that single-parent families need more support. Support can come from other family members, friends, and in some cases the employer. Ineitably, where there is more parental support, the child with asthma is healthier.
Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit an dear friend of mine. We've been friends for almost 20 years. Alex and I became friends when we were fencing in college. He and his wife own the Peekskill Fencing Center in Peekskill, NY (http://www.peekskillfencing.com/).. It's a lovely facility doing wonderful things for children.
When I reminisce on fencing, I am filled with joyous memories. Fencing was wonderful. It gave me so much; confidence, camaraderie, friendship, physical activity, and so much more. Little did I know that years later, the family would have a fencing club. I am so proud of them for taking a chance to run a business and help children in the process. It is difficult to be in business for oneself. And they are succeeding, despite the current economy. And after spending time at the Center with Alex, I can see why. Children need to believe in themselves. Fencing offers them that. This small club does so in particular.
I had never really seen a child fence before. A student of his came to practice. It was amazing to see this 7 year old fence. He had skill & grace. He has much to learn in fencing & in life. And it showed, in the best way ever. He was a bit cocky before practice started. He told me how easy it was. This little boy further explained that he had already won a competition. Then, practice started. The layers peeled away. Alex was gentle & a gentle and excellent teacher. At the end of the short lesson, the little boy took off his mask. His tired face revealed it all to me. It wasn't easy; it was false bravado. At 7 years old, he already has to keep up a front. The amazing thing is that fencing is teaching him little by little to break down the protective wall and build a solid foundation within. He doesn't even know it yet, but that is what he's doing. And that is the gift of all sports for children - physical & psychological strengthening. I never realized how important that was until that moment ... mask off & all.
The benefit of fencing is that small clubs all over the country offer the intimacy that other large sports may not. They offer one on one attention. Consider fencing for your child. It offers so much. It's cool. And it's really, really fun!