Documenting Hope: For Our Children, For Our Planet
This week, we are sharing an article by Beth Lambert, founder of Epidemic Answers, a nonprofit established to better understand chronic childhood ailments and find a cure.
Beth is also working on a documentary titled, Documenting Hope where 14 families will be followed through their journey of illness to recovery.
PUR2o is a proud supporter of Beth, her vision, and ultimate goal to prove children can recover from illness linked to environmental factors. Learn more about what we are doing to help here.
DOCUMENTING HOPE: FOR OUR CHILDREN, FOR OUR PLANET
By Beth Lambert Executive Director Epidemic Answers and the Documenting Hope Project A version of this article was originally featured in Creations Magazine in 2018
Today at least 1 in 2 American children has a diagnosed chronic health condition. The statistics are frightening. Asthma affects 1 in 8 kids; 1 in 3 children are obese or overweight; ADHD impacts at least 1 in 10 school children; autism spectrum disorders now affect 1 in 40 children. We have seen an exponential increase in sickness over previous generations when most children were generally healthy, and chronic illness was concentrated in adults.
This epidemic of childhood illness is taking place as we head into an unprecedented crisis of planetary degradation: global warming, polluted air, undrinkable water. With no sign of abating, these trends portend a bleak future for our kids.
About 10 years ago I began hearing about families whose children had serious chronic health conditions. Often multiple generations of the family were sick. They told me that after making drastic changes in their lifestyles, everyone’s health improved. Following are some of the remarkable stories I heard:
• Anthony was 3 1/2 and he still had no words. He was diagnosed as having severe speech apraxia, sensory processing disorder, and low muscle tone. He also had gut issues, allergies and poor sleep. After a week of dietary changes and a probiotic supplement, he had 10 words. Three months later, Anthony’s sensory issues disappeared. Four months in to living a greener, more natural lifestyle, incorporating whole nutritious foods, Anthony started speaking in sentences. He went from having verbal skills of a 12-month-old, to age appropriate in 9 months time.
• Leo was diagnosed with autism at two years old at the Yale Child Study Center. He was very delayed in language development, was always “stimming” on the wheels of vehicles, and seemed to be in a constant “fog.” After learning that certain diet and lifestyle changes could improve the symptoms of autism, Leo’s family committed to making these changes. After only one week of a gluten-free and dairy-free diet, Leo began to talk. After six months on a diet of organic whole foods, nutritional supplements and clean living, Leo tested age appropriate for speech. Before Leo entered kindergarten, he officially lost his autism diagnosis. Today, he is a completely typical kid.
• At age 5, Kyle had numerous debilitating diagnoses including: ADHD, asthma, Sensory Processing Disorder and life-threatening food allergies. Through integrative medicine and a holistic lifestyle, Kyle shed all of his labels. Instead of a life filled with medicines and doctor visits, Kyle is now a thriving 13-year old with a fully functioning mind. He makes straight A’s, has lots of friends, and creates amazing art.
I yearned to learn more. Would it be possible to document a family’s changes from sickness to health? Is it realistic to think that apraxia or autism could disappear? The more I researched, the more I learned that not only was healing possible, it was happening all over the country. Yet no one seemed to be talking about this kind of healing in a meaningful way.
In 2010, I co-founded Epidemic Answers, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to reestablishing vibrant health in our children. Three years later, the Documenting Hope Project, a special research project of Epidemic Answers was born. My goal was to demonstrate scientifically that healing could happen, and to document this experience on film.
I assembled a team of top physicians, scientists, children’s health advocates and natural health experts to design a series of research studies that could clearly demonstrate how daily lifestyle choices have a direct impact upon health. The Documenting Hope Project aims to use science and media to revolutionize how parents, physicians, and policy makers think about children’s health as well as the health of our planet.
The central focus of the Documenting Hope Project is two groundbreaking scientific studies: CHIRPTM, short for Children's Health Inventory for Resilience and Prevention, is a research study designed to gather information about possible associations among the many stressors and exposures children experience in the first years of life and the emergence of pediatric chronic disease. Interested parents complete an online survey that inventories and categorizes anything and everything that a child could possibly be exposed to: food, water, consumer products, building materials, industrial sites, etc. The data collected will then be examined in relationship to a child’s specific symptoms and other health measurements. The CHIRPTM Survey took several years of intense development. It analyzes responses to over 900 questions. Everyone who completes it receives a comprehensive personalized report detailing their child’s health stressors and risk factors. This study’s principal investigator, pediatric neurologist Martha Herbert, PhD, MD is one of over 30 medical and scientific advisors and contributors to this research. CHIRPTM received IRB approval in early 2018 and is currently enrolling participants. Over 1000 parents of children ages 1 to 15 will be enrolled nationwide. If you are interested in participating, please go to www.documentinghope.com/chirp-study to learn more.
The second study, titled FLIGHTTM Facilitated Longitudinal Intensive Investigation of Genuine Health Transformation) is longitudinal, aimed at enrolling as many as 14 chronically ill children in a pilot program custom designed to optimize their health and hopefully, even achieve disease reversal. This is a prospective intensive, multivariate, observational study that will build upon the CHIRPTM inventory for capturing clinical data over time. We will test the hypothesis that comprehensive personalized lifestyle interventions can, in fact, lead to symptom abatement, improved health and disease reversal.
While we have a vast body of anecdotal evidence indicating that individuals with chronic conditions can fully recover, no prospective research documents this possibility. The idea that childhood illnesses like autism, asthma, ADHD and autoimmune diseases are life sentences has actually never been proven or rigorously tested. It is just a belief system held in conventional medical circles and perpetuated in the media. This perception, exacerbated by a prevailing belief in genetic determinism has allowed medicine to slide into complacency where large numbers of sick children are just accepted as the “new normal.” This prevents us from giving our children the kind of care that can restore their health and full functioning.
The Documenting Hope Project intends not only to question the prevailing belief system about health but to demonstrate how it is flawed. We will be filming the participants in the longitudinal study so that the stories of their recovery from chronic illness can be broadcast far and wide, inspiring others to take charge of their children’s health.
Our relationship to the environment does have a direct and immediate impact on our health. Our sick children are trying to wake us up to this inconvenient truth. As modern industrial nations are being consumed by a tsunami of chronically ill children, it is an economic necessity, a moral imperative and our ethical responsibility to find a way out of this situation.
I believe we can stop the escalating epidemics of chronic childhood illness and redefine the human relationship with the planet by clearly and scientifically demonstrating that human health is directly correlated with the conditions of our surroundings. By proving that serious chronic illnesses can be reversed by optimizing the things that interact with our bodies on a daily basis, we have the opportunity to profoundly impact the future of our children and life on this planet.
Beth Lambert is the founder and Executive Director of Epidemic Answers, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to reestablishing vibrant health in our children. She is also the creator and Executive Producer of The Documenting Hope Project, a multi-year prospective research study and media project that examines the cumulative impact of environmental stressors on health and their mitigation through personalized and systems-based treatment approach
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