When the second semester of my freshman year started, I felt somewhat prepared for the Health class I was about to begin, but I was concerned about topics what might be discussed. What if a chapter in our textbook included vaccines like my middle school textbook did? What if I had to defend my view of vaccines? What if I defend my views and others opposed it? I’m sure I could have a decent conversation about vaccines because of my family’s experience, but I know I’d feel a little uneasy talking about them because I don’t know my classmates very well yet.
I got my Health textbook before classes began. I went ahead and looked at the index to see if vaccines were mentioned in any of the chapters. They were. A vaccine schedule and a few sections that had quotes from the CDC were in the book too. After I saw that, I looked for the copyright date. I wanted to see when the book was published. It was published in 2001. That’s the year that I was born. The vaccine schedule back then was not as full as it is today. Today’s vaccine schedule is definitely fuller and has more vaccines than ever before.
Some of the vaccine information in my textbook is outdated, but what the CDC was saying in that book is the same thing that they say today – that vaccines are safe and basically wonderful. I hear that all the time, but I know that it is not true for everyone. It was not true for my brother. My brother, Ronan, was affected by vaccines but not in a good way. He lost some skills and abilities after he was vaccinated. He was doing okay before them, but now, he’s non-verbal and has autism.
When the topic of vaccines comes up later this semester, as nervous as I may get, I feel that I must speak up and say something about them. I’ll share my brother’s story. I’ll tell my classmates that I don’t want them to have the wrong information about vaccines. I will tell them even though the textbook only has good things about vaccines, they need to read more about them including vaccine have side effects. But I won’t have to worry about discussing that yet because we are talking about nutrition and food-related illnesses in class now.
We’ve discussed bulimia, anorexia nervosa, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. None of us in the class have problems with those diseases, but we all agreed that knowing about those diseases was good. The more we know, the more we can know how to avoid them. We also all agreed that we should make better food and nutrition choices too because it’s good for our health.
Since nutrition is an important topic, we were assigned to do a project on it. I worked with another student and presented information about the six classes of nutrients, how water is beneficial for health, and how a healthy diet can help change society for the better. We offered suggestions about making healthy snacks at the end of the presentation. Everyone liked what we shared, especially because we brought yummy treats to sample. We did that to show examples of what vitamins and minerals were found in foods that a lot of us already eat.
Something else I got to add in my part of the presentation was Fed Up. I watched that movie last summer. It’s about “Everything we’ve been told about food and exercise for the past 30 years is dead wrong.” The teacher had heard of that documentary and said that we could watch it later in the semester when we talk about lifestyles and diseases.
We’re watching another movie now called Food, Inc. That movie “exposes America’s industrialized food system and its effects on our environment, health, economy and workers’ rights.” It took a few days to see the whole thing, but I thought it was great that we got to see it. I’ve seen it before, but I didn’t remember all of it. The movie had lots of helpful information about the food and meat industry. Some of the information was scary like the part where the pigs were slaughtered. I was surprised at other parts of the movie like how some of the people who work in the meat industry refused to be interviewed. Why would they do that? If they have nothing to hide, why are they being secretive? If they don’t go on camera, it leads me to believe that they have reasons to hide. I don’t like that!
Since my teacher is showing these kinds of movies, I’d like to suggest one more for my class to watch. Later in the semester when we when get to the chapter in our book that talks about vaccines, I’m going to ask if we can watch Trace Amounts. http://traceamounts.com/ I got to see that last year. I got to meet Eric Gladen, the man who made the documentary, and I thanked him. He went through so much and shared a lot about what happened to him. He shared a lot about the vaccine industry too. I think his movie will be more informative than my textbook. I also think his message will be better heard by my classmates. My classmates may not be able to relate to Eric’s vaccine injury if they were not vaccine injured, but they’ll be able to understand the movie. I think they’ll be interested in what he discusses. They may be shocked at all the information, but I bet they’ll walk away wondering about it and can start looking up information on their own.
I’m only a few weeks into this class, but I know I’ll learn a lot more before the semester ends. I was very nervous when it started because I didn’t know what to expect, but so far I’ve been pleasantly surprised. We’ve talked about how good nutrition can affect your body in a positive way and that bad nutrition can affect you negatively. We’ve also discussed things that my family already does like making healthy choices like eating organic and natural foods. I’m hopeful that the rest of the semester will be beneficial for me and my classmates. The topics we get to talk are important, and I know they will come in handy later in life.
Fiona Jameson, the oldest of five children, is a freshman in high school. She wants to be a gluten-free baker, professional volleyball player, a photographer, and a Mom when she grows up.