Victor Jung is a committed philanthropist from New York City

Tag: Health

A History of the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund

The Children’s Heart Surgery Fund got its start thanks to a single visionary heart surgeon in 1988. Duncan Walker, a congenital cardiac surgeon in Leeds, realized that his facility was missing out on opportunities to save the lives of infants and children. Though there was new equipment available that could provide benefits, the Leeds hospitals could not afford to purchase these highly specified tools.

Therefore, Walker decided to set up a charity that would help fund pediatric cardiac surgery. The public immediately responded to this cause, and in just a year, enough money was raised to build a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Once Walker realized just how much the public cared about this important cause, he decided to continue running the charity even after the initial goal was met.

The Children’s Heart Surgery Fund continued to raise money for keeping the Leeds unit operational. This took on a whole new sense of urgency in 2011 when changes to legislation threatened to close the entire clinic. The issue arose after a scandal in the 1990s when several children died in the Bristol Royal Infirmary. Due to this problem, the government had decided to move all children’s heart surgeries to a few specialist clinics.

If this law was enacted, the Leeds unit would have to shut down. However, the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund launched the ‘Save Our Surgery’ campaign. With a petition of over 600,000 signatures and a massive demonstration, they generated national interest. When even this was not enough, the charity then used funds to start a legal action against the Department of Health. This ultimately proved successful in 2013, when a High Court judge ruled that the Leeds clinic deserved a more thorough analysis before closure.

In 2015, it was determined that the LGI actually did meet most of the national standards for pediatric heart surgery units, and the clinic was allowed to stay open. This whole saga showed just how successful the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund could be when the people of Leeds united for a cause. With pressure to continue meeting national standards, the charity has continued to run fundraising efforts. Recently, £500,000 was raised in a year to launch a revolutionary hybrid theatre that continues to help save lives.

How to Discuss Terminal Illness with Children

Most adults have an instinctive desire to protect children, both physically and emotionally. Their wish to guard against harm leads them to safeguard their environment, and do what they can to clear dangers and obstacles from their lives. Unfortunately, there are some things that simply can’t be avoided, regardless of a parent’s vigilance.

As death is a part of life, it stands to reason that sooner or later, children will have to face the impending death of a loved one. Talking to kids about terminal illness is hard, as being truthful about what it means is certain to bring pain to children. However, just like some of the other difficult parenting tasks (e.g. sleep training or leaving a child with a babysitter for the first time) it is a necessary part of raising healthy and independent future adults. Here are some tips for talking about terminal illness with children.

Normalize It

Death and dying are a natural part of life, and it is helpful to make children aware of that concept from an early age. Certainly, there is no shortage of children’s books and movies that reference death in some way or another. Having a conversation about it when it pertains to a fictional character (Bambi’s mother, for example) is a great way to talk about it before it becomes personal. When it does become personal for them, having that context that as painful as it is, it is normal, will help them make sense of it.

Tell them what they need to know

The amount of detail kids can absorb will vary by age and developmental level, but it is important to give children the information they need to understand what’s happening with their loved one. Research has indicated that children who have dealt with a parent with a terminal illness felt they were not given all of the information they needed, and that rather than protect them from stress, this created more anxiety for them.

Be honest

Be honest about what is likely to happen, and don’t be afraid to answer their questions with total honesty, even if that means saying “I don’t know.” Children need to be able to trust not only the information they are given, but the person giving it.


Victor Jung

How to Promote a Healthy Lifestyle for Children

Children can be extremely impressionable, and therefore require guidance when it comes to development. Perhaps one of the most important aspects of development is that of a healthy lifestyle. Habits that children may begin to solidify can often be difficult to change, so a healthy diet mixed with physical activity is important to instill early on, typically between the ages of 1 and 5.

Because many new parents have hectic schedules with little room for accommodation, young children typically spend their days in child care settings, whether they are nurseries or schools. With that said, the skills of those left in charge of taking care of your children are a critical component in their development. As mentioned before, an emphasis should be placed on healthy diets and physical activity. When choosing a facility to take of your child, review their policies on these two considerations.

Outside of education or assisted care, you as a parent can instill beneficial habits in your children in the comfort of your own home. Regarding healthy eating habits, stress the importance of snacking and which foods are better than others. Limit how many snacks your children may have in a day, but provide healthy choices when they do. Fruit, vegetables, or nuts are great alternatives to sweets, though the occasional cookie doesn’t hurt. Rather than drinks containing high fructose corn syrup or large amounts of sugar, have your children drink water, milk, 100% orange juice, or natural fruit drinks.

Getting your children out and about can teach them the importance of physical activity no matter what the activity they are partaking in. A great way to do this is to enroll them at a local sports club, allowing them to choose whatever sport they’d like to play most. Soccer, baseball, or football are all great youth sports that promote fitness and health. If sports are not their first interests however, simply taking them to the park for a day at the playground or walk around the area is enough to show them the importance of physical activity.

In a world dominated by technology, it’s an easy escape tactic as a parent to give your children iPads or phones to keep them distracted while you have other pressing matters to attend to. This can create a harmful dependency in your child, and negatively affect his or her attention span. Be sure to limit your children’s time in front of the television, computer, or other recreational screens.
Though I have named just a few, there are countless activities you can take part in as a parent with your children to promote healthier lifestyles, and doing so at an early age is crucial in their growth and development. Teaching habits that positively affect their lives will allow them to maintain those practices, giving them the best possible chance to live happier, healthier lives.

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