Monthly Archives: March 2013

Transformation

Guest blog post by Myron Rolle, a Florida State athlete and student, Oxford graduate, Rhodes Scholar,  former NFL player, and advocate for foster children. He has held many Myron Rolle Wellness and Leadership Academy camps for children in foster care and today is holding the “Rhodes to Success” camp.

There was a small boy in foster care with glasses at one of the Wellness and Leadership Academy camps. He was small, diminutive, reclusive and not very social. I kept my eye on him all week and made sure he was encouraged to participate in the camp.  

Go team! Coming in as a group at the Myron Rolle Wellness and Leadership Academy.

Go team! Coming in as a group at the Myron Rolle Wellness and Leadership Academy.

One day, Rudy Ruettiger came to speak. He was featured in the movie “Rudy,” which details the Notre Dame football career of an underdog player who was dyslexic. Rudy fought to get in the game and made a great, famous play.

At the Q&A with Rudy, the small boy began asking Rudy questions – right in front of the entire group. He was confident, active and had a new self-awareness.

Climbing the rock wall at camp

Climbing the rock wall at camp.

The next day he was the only one to make it to the top of the rock wall. In a way it was symbolic. He had conquered his fears and his past. He was a new man. I ran over and gave him a huge hug and told him how proud I was of him for breaking out of his shell and overcoming his fears. He had completely transformed in just a few days.

I have never been a foster child. I cannot imagine the pain they have known. But I treasure the relationship that I, as well as my family formed with DCF years ago.

I dove right in, with the goal of finding out what made the kids laugh and forget their troubles, if only for a little while. I spoke with them about their dreams and their feelings to find out what I could do to offer them the most and help shape their futures.

Myron playing flag football with the campers.

Myron playing flag football with the campers.

The Myron Rolle Wellness and Leadership Academy was established as a means to instill within them the importance of education, a foundation of values, self respect, and the ability to better understand how to nourish and take care of themselves. I want this special population of young people to walk away with higher goals, better confidence and know that successful adults around them believe that they can achieve anything.

Today, 50 kids are at the “Rhodes to Success” event, which I hope will encourage the kids to aim high with their educations.

Campers dancing and having fun at a camp assembly - it takes a lot of courage to get up in front of a large audience!

Campers dancing and having fun at a camp assembly – it takes a lot of courage to get up in front of a large audience!

My time with the kids inspires me to continue working on my own football career and future work in the medical field. They have shown me that there truly is no limit to what we can accomplish.

 

Abused for almost a decade – finding the courage to leave

Guest post by DCF Child Protective Investigator Angela Brown and Child Protective Investigations Supervisor Julia Johnson in Suwannee County

domestic violenceA mother had been in a very violent relationship for nine years.  She had quit fighting back.  When her husband found out about the abuse report she filed against him, he told her he was going to kill her.

She told us she was scared and didn’t want DCF involved.  But we told her that as bad as the domestic violence is now, it will only get worse if she doesn’t get help. The abuse would continue to break down her self-esteem.  She needed to get help to protect herself and her children.

The woman’s mother is her support system and worked with us to encourage her and her children to stay at a domestic violence shelter until it was safe for her to return home. The woman was confused and really didn’t know how to go about saving herself.

A victim’s advocate at the Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office help her fill out an injunction against her husband and stood by her side in court. We both gave the woman our phone numbers and encouraged her to call at any time if she needed help.

Now she no longer has to worry about what will happen when her husband comes home from work.  Her stomach was no longer in knots.  She was living again, for the first time in a long time.  She said she had seen the change in her children – they are calmer, happier, laughing more, not as angry and not fighting with each other as much.

The changes in her life are obvious.  Her appearance is different – she has confidence, is happy, smiles, talks and laughs.  She is working to get her GED … and she has expressed interest in someday becoming a Child Protective Investigator.

Maternity Leave – Gone Fishin’

Guest post by Kendra Goff, PhD, DABT, State Toxicologist for the Florida Department of Health.

Kendra Goff, PhD, DABT, State Toxicologist

Kendra Goff, PhD, DABT, State Toxicologist

As an expecting mom, tailoring my diet to the health of my baby-to-be seemed daunting. There are so many inherent “can’ts” and shouldn’ts” during pregnancy and I didn’t want to take any dietary missteps that could hurt my baby later. For many women, one of the confusing points about diet during pregnancy comes in the question of seafood.

My pregnancy has let me empathize with how confusing it can be for any mom or mom-to-be to clearly tell the difference between which fish are safe to eat and which fish are advised to be avoided—before, during and after pregnancy. With a constant flood of conflicting information about the dangers of mercury-laden fish, many of us want to throw our hands up in frustration and ward fish off altogether (which is exactly what we at DOH absolutely don’t want to happen!)

As an avid sushi eater and lover, I was most concerned about having to forgo my Japanese favorite—and luckily, I didn’t have to! I was reminded that, with a little education, incorporating the right fish into my diet (in cooked forms) was actually very simple and rewarding. My sushi-craving palette didn’t have to suffer—and neither did the profits of the Japanese restaurant who knows me by name!

Fish bring undeniable health benefits to the table. A variety of low-mercury seafood options provide proteins and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Consistently incorporating fish into your diet before and during pregnancy and while breastfeeding can boost your baby’s intellect and encourage brain and eye development. Some researchers have even suggested that depression experienced during and after pregnancy may result from a lack of fish consumption.

“Fish for Your Health” wallet card

“Fish for Your Health” wallet card

During both my pregnancies, I couldn’t help but smile during my healthy nutrition discussion with my OB-GYN when she handed me a wallet card produced by DOH, clearly detailing nutritional information about low-mercury seafood. I immediately recognized several of my favorites in the “Low Mercury” category, including clam, catfish, crab, herring, oyster, scallops, shrimp, tilapia and tuna, with a recommended consumption of 12 ounces a week. Salmon, one of the healthiest seafood options, can provide the recommended amount of omega-3s in as few as 6 ounces a week.

Even in my current position of State Toxicologist, that wallet card remains a regular guest at my restaurant outings and the grocery store, clearly and easily reminding me which fish are best for my diet and for my family’s meals. I encourage others – women who are currently expecting or planning to get pregnant and all women of childbearing age–to print out our “Fish for Your Health” wallet card and find the many fish that are right for you.

You may be making sacrifices during your pregnancy, but don’t let seafood be one of them! Remember these three elements to snag your fish-friendly diet: consume a variety of fish; find fish that are relatively low in mercury; and the most important of all–incorporate them into your diet!

“Fish for Your Health” wallet card

“Fish for Your Health” wallet card