Step aside. I’m changing the world.

by Dr. Karla Lester

Sometimes I feel like I live on the verge of basic incompetence. At work one day, my computer suddenly shut down, the “No signal” sign came up on my monitor and there was this incessant beeping that started up. I’ve heard this beeping before. I put my finger on the “on/off” switch and held it down for a period of time that has in the past successfully revived it. It’s my one finger computer CPR. The beeping continued like a high shrill bird call sending out some kind of a warning. I started to wonder what this thing was capable of. Oh right. I need to hold it down for a longer period of time, but not too long. I have to get it just right. Ah, dangit. More blasted beeping. That’s it. This time, I’m going to grab the computer lady, and have her fix it once and for all. I cringe knowing that I haven’t backed up my files. She’s going to ask me, just in case my computer crashes and finally burns out (the beeping goes away but not in a good way) and I will respond, “Hey, I have a ton of those files on my laptop, so it wouldn’t be a big deal if they were all lost.” Ready to vomit.

“The IT department is on the phone for you nice computer lady,” I say. My phone cord is all coiled up and needs to be replaced. I handed the phone to her, hoping she wouldn’t pull the phone cord too hard for fear she would get sucked up into landline vortex and we would never see her again. She was such a nice computer lady too. She smiled at me and chuckled that little superior chuckle, and I know in her mind she was thinking the evidence wasn’t circumstantial anymore. There were too many clues. The computer beeping, the not backed up files, and now the bunched up phone cord. She was thinking, “How does this lady get out of bed in the morning, let alone try to change the world?”

I have a very busy life running Teach a Kid to Fish, taking care of my three kids and household. But the way my life is today, a bad day for me is nothing compared to a bad everyday for so many people.

I remember growing up in a single parent home when my Mom had three jobs at one time. When my parents got divorced, my life changed from idyllic and healthy to a neglectful childhood in a moment. When I read about the social determinants of health, I can relate to many of the barriers children and families in our community face when trying to live a healthy life.

Now, Frannie and her parents came to our Bodyworks program. She comes loaded with a family reeking of diabetes and cigarette smoke. They love her to the moon and back, which is obvious from the words spilling out of their mouths in between sips on their ultrabig gulps they repeatedly bring to our healthy living classes. They can’t control her. She has her own mind. She is strong willed and has a list of diagnoses, one requiring an antipsychotic medication that has made her gain even more weight. Frannie and her parents don’t need just education. They don’t need to be lectured. Dogma and judgment won’t work. Frannie and her parents need connection. They need support to help address the real barriers in their lives which are keeping them from creating a healthy lifestyle.

Frannie and her parents have some work to do too. Just showing up is not enough. It’s the one finger computer CPR. It’s not backing up your files for years and then pretending like they don’t matter.

The Lincoln Vital Signs Report reveals that Lincoln is a city with a lot going for it, but in contradiction to our successes are the rising rates of poverty, especially in children. Poverty rates of Lincoln children have doubled since 2008 and six Lincoln neighborhoods are now designated as extreme poverty areas.

Children’s Hospital & Medical Center is sponsoring a HEROES Weight Management Clinic in Lincoln in affiliation with Teach a Kid to Fish, The Y and UNL Department of Psychology.   The clinic is opening on January 13, 2015. Children who are overweight with a comorbidity or obese are referred by their primary care provider for evaluation and treatment by the multidisciplinary team. Children in poverty and who are minority are disproportionately affected by the obesity epidemic. Our HEROES team will focus on connection and relationship building. There will be a lot of listening, connection to community resources, support and fun. The goal will be to create opportunities for families to have positive wellness experiences.   These are small and important steps to creating community solutions for children’s health.

So, who are you to think you can change the world? Are you going to be satisfied with changing just a miniscule part of it? Can you put something out there that is positive and let it take its effect? A ripple in the tide and then see if it gains any traction?

The answer is yes.

Oh, and don’t take yourself seriously. Nobody else does.


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