Pangea 2008 just completed, another step on the road to “putting children first.” Where do we go from here?
The annual pediatric integrative medicine conference, otherwise known as Pangea, was a rousing success this year if you judge it by the energy and enthusiasm of the attendees. Integrative practitioners of all types and from many countries joined us in NYC last weekend. Highlights – and there were many – included Martha Herbert’s reframe of autism as a whole body disorder, Scott Shannon’s presentation of child-ecology fit and mental health trends, Kathi Kemper’s acceptance of the IPC Leadership Award and her inspiring address, and Tieraona Low Dog’s bring-down-the-house closing plea for all of us to practice what she calls “planetary medicine.” She used many personal examples to highlight how our relationship to the earth and all of its inhabitants is crucial to our practice of medicine. Personally, I can’t remember a more moving talk at a health care conference, or for that matter, pretty much anywhere. I’m glad that I could present, with children’s health advocate Lynn Getz, our call to action – “Putting Children First” – prior to Dr. Low Dog’s tour-de-force. There was no way to follow it.
I chose to highlight a new viral video making the rounds during our talk to demonstrate the optimism of today’s youth movement. I wanted those attending to feel the pull to join “Generation We” in their quest to lift our country in one of its most trying times. You must watch this video to feel its power. It highlights the many challenges we face. But it is not pessimistic.
Today’s monumental challenges must be seen as opportunities. Following on the heels of the recent historic U.S. presidential election, there was this feeling at the conference that we are on the brink of a great shift; perhaps, finally, people will take greater notice of the crisis in children’s healthcare. It is apparent that today’s kids are noticing, and doing something about it, and I believe it is our moral imperative to help them in any way we can. I was encouraged by the response at Pangea. What happens next? We must continue to work together, pediatricians, other health care advocates, and families, to effect real change. We must continue the dialogue, but we must also act.
Will you join us?