Changing Contexts, Influencing Youth and Their Surroundings
With more than 470 attending health workers from the medical, social, educational and political sector, coming from more than 16 different European countries, the EUSUHM congress ROTTERDAM 2019 has reached all the expectations.
Changing Contexts, influencing youth and their surroundings”, the theme of the event, has been approached by 8 keynotes speakers, in 19 parallel sessions, 11 workshops and in more than 70 posters during the 3 day congress.
The opening session was performed by children in the age of 10-12 years from a primary school - “Provenier” - in Rotterdam, with a stunning dance.
Summary of the program
The introduction was held by Prinses Laurentien, who focused on primary education, the importance of oral language in early years, and the role of the parents in talking to their children . Speaking to children is the base for connective thinking, former cerebral development and thus resilience for unfortunate life events, such as E.L.S.
For Prinses Laurentien involving children and adolescents in the emancipation progresses is important, by listening to them, talking to them and learning from their idea’s. Let the child being an “agent “ to learn the parents, policymakers, doctors, teachers, what they want and what they need. Her citation: “ I don’t have all the answers, wait a minute I need help: so let the children help us, to enrich our procedures and develop the processes not from an ivory tower of adult’s knowledge’s, but from the bottom“. She learned us that we can help children to be responsible for their own health.
Professor Kate Picklett (UK) pointed out in her key lecture, that child well-being is often linked to structural inequalities, and “ how vulnerable it can be by a swing of political systems “ for the growing up contexts in which children and adolescent lives. She left us with the statement that , citation: “ Where people care about other children as much as their own Children this is prove of a high quality society.”
Professor Eric Steegers (NL) let us know about the importance of prematurity indicators, such as small for birth children and child mortality as indicators for child poverty, who may have lifelong consequences and inequities. Citation: “ your Zip code is maybe more important than your genetic code in our society”. He added the concept of the life course approach, with a focus on health management instead of disease management, as being used in the last 100 years. Furthermore, he pointed out that the concept of providing care before pregnancy - “preconceptional care” , as well as for the surroundings, especially the local environment of the child - have an important influence of the later life course . A citation: “healthy life-styles has become more sexy nowadays. “, (E Steeger).
Professor Nadia Jungmann ( NL) talked about strengthen executive functions as a tool for children to deal with E.L.S , not only in young children (3-5y) but also in adolescents and early adulthood. She also emphasis on the transmission of poverty by generations creating chronic stress and vulnerability. Options to reduces stress sensitivity for example are making goals together, to pay attention in the sports club, in the classroom, in the families, to give recognition and empathy, to take care of basic needs.
Professor Jan Renes (NL) introduced in his key note lecture the concepts in our brain (concept 1: pass way cognition, concept 2: pass way on the emotional level - the oldest part of the human brain) which guide every human being ”into putting a message into practice “. His concept is based on use of nudges and positive text messages to reach a person and make him or her to react. Citation: “Knowing is not the same as doing “ .
Furthermore , Professor Corinne Vanderneulen ( BE) gave us a new update of Vaccine hesitancy in a post –vaccine era, where the benefit of vaccination to avoid epidemics, the importance of high coverage for herdimmunity, are no longer seen as positive; not only for the single one but also for community . And instead, in the vaccine opposition camp often become a topic of negociation, and critics the medicals need to focus on. By using vaccines we use our own immune system and potentialise the proper immune system.
Professor Juriaan v Rijswijk (NL) focused on the use of “Games for Health” issues by presenting a recent study with young adults addictive to gaming. He started from the hypothesis, citation: “ to play empowers the brain and health related feelings “ and discovered that “we already may use nowadays in neuro-science the technology of computer games and their concepts”. He added that gamers have been used for finding out about the protein structure of the AIDS virus or in Alzheimer’s disease, and modern health related knowledge is triggered by concept thinking for computer games.
At last, Professor Mitch Blair (UK ) added the last results of the MOCHA report , recently published, a European wide project which implicate more the 30 countries and focused on child health care systems. Including stakeholder’s opinion on the local level. The final report will be published online in 2019. He offered the participants free access to this book.
During the congress, special attention was given to one of the main topics : Early Life Stress also named toxic Stress or chronic stress.
Early life stress is harmful, from fertilization onwards including adolescents. The long-term stress exposure may affect the healthy development of a person, especially young children and youth. They develop a hypersensitivity to stress moments making them more vulnerable to deal with stress events in later life. The concept of E.L.S. is evidence based. By changing their living contexts, influencing the surrounding of growing-up safely, these children may develop resilience strategies to survive the early life stress giving them more chances to be happy adults later in life. Therefore, being aware of early life stress in childhood, Youth Health Care workers provide prevention and do help to induce mentalization processes for parents and help them to find tools to handle with toxic stress.
As already Douglas said in 1885- more than a 100 years ago: “It’s better to build strong children than repair a broken man”.
Because of the importance of this topic of early life stress Eusuhm released the Declaration: “STRONG CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS: HEALTHY NATION!”.
Keynote speakers and many participants signed up the Declaration.
The early life stress statements have been send to every member of Eusuhm and to all participants of the congress. This strong message about early life stress should be sprayed out further. It is time to act!
During this congress, posters got overwhelming attention from the participants, because of the newly introduced competition. Participants could vote their favorite. At the end of the congress,
5 posters with the most votes were selected .The 5 authors were asked to pitch about their topic. There was a Jury Poster Prize (based on the judgement of the jury) and a Public Award Prize (based on the number of stickers.
The winner of the Jury price was Els Jonker (NL): The impact of young caring is lifelong.
The winner of the Public Award price was S. Habermayr (CH): Yoga as health prevention for primary school kids- does it make sense?
The other Nominees:
T.Culina (CRO): Hypertension and its risk factors in children and adolescents
A.M. Küpers (NL):Family lifestyle intervention for overweight children: reasons to quit.
J. Muyselaar (NL) : Exploratory study: Moving abroad with kids: what advice would adult third culture kids(ATCKs) give parents making international moves with their children?
Sylvia Habermayr from Switzerland gave us the experience of yoga-on-the-spot, a way to relax during the busy congress days.
After three inspiring days, meeting many interesting people from abroad, Hein Raat, professor at the Erasmus University, closed getting ideas for work and collaboration, the congress by giving us an overlook from the past days.
And last but not least: Zeljka Karin gave the disclosure about the next Eusuhm congress, in 2021: it will be held in Split, Croatia.
Satisfied and with joy everybody made their way home.