A Night To Remember

invisible threatWhat a night!  If you weren’t able to join us last Thursday evening for the national premiere of “Invisible Threat” you missed out!  This film went far beyond my expectations.  I was shocked to see the raw talent and pure journalistic integrity that these high school students encompass and were able to project on screen.  As the film begins you quickly realize that the intent of this project was to present an unbiased, educational movie about immunizations.  The initial goal was not intended to share the life-saving power of vaccines, but rather to educate people about vaccines.  How do they work?  Are they safe?  Are they even necessary?  These common questions were answered simply and knowledgeably by high school students who were simply on a search for the truth.

As the film progresses we learned a little about the history of vaccines, saw interviews with physicians, an anti-vaccine advocate, a natural medicine doctor, and a retired United States Brigadier General. While all of these people were vital to the film, the most poignant of all were the stories of mother’s who lost a child to a vaccine-preventable disease.  As these mothers told their stories I looked to my husband sitting next to me and saw tears streaming down his face.  You could feel the emotion in the room.  These young film makers were making an impact.

But the message this film sends goes far beyond “go get your shots.”  It digs much deeper into the personal and even universal consequences of a world where people refuse vaccinations.  Even exploring the possibility that diseases that are all but eradicated from the United States thanks to immunization could easily resurface should immunization rates continue to fall.  The continuing myth that vaccines are in some way associated with autism is examined and the world’s leading medical experts on the subject provide proven scientific evidence that there simply is no relation between the two.

This film exposes the truth: vaccines save lives.

We also had the honor of hearing from a very distinguished group of panelists:  Lisa Posard, Producer of “Invisible Threat,” Doug Green, Director of “Invisible Threat,” Amy Pisani, Executive Director of Every Child by Two, Frankie Milley, Founder/National Executive Director of Meningitis Angels, and Dr. Carol Baker, Professor of Molecular Virology and Microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine.

And of course this night would never have been possible without the students who took the time and effort to make this amazing to film.  I’m not sure that they knew the powerful impact their hard work and dedication would have.  A special thanks to all the students involved in the making of this film.  I hope it’s a night they won’t forget…I know I won’t.

Invisible Threat: The Beginning

invisible threatIf you have checked our Facebook or Twitter pages this week you have noticed that we have a very exciting event happening next week.  We are beyond excited to be hosting the national premiere of the documentary “The Invisible Threat” next Thursday, January 23 at The Sundance Cinemas Houston.

I had the pleasure of speaking with the film’s producer, Lisa Posard (who happens to be the mother of one of the 16 students responsible for creating the film) and she was kind enough to provide me with the background of how this documentary came about.  Let me just say, this is an amazing story.

This whole project began at Carlsbad High School.  The school has a daily news broadcast each morning that is covered by local cable networks and is broadcast to all of its 3,000 students.  For the past 6 years these students have been considered to be one of the top broadcasting programs in in the nation and have been awarded 19 Student Emmys as a result.  Needless to say, this is not your average high school newsroom.  Eight years ago Doug Green, a former middle school English teacher, wanted to provide students with an opportunity to discover first-hand the background history of “The Diary of Anne Frank,” because he felt middle students just weren’t getting the real message.  They didn’t grasp what was really happening at that time in history.  In order to help them fully understand, Green had his Carlsbad High School TV (CHSTV) broadcasting students expand their journalism skills to a longer more in depth format and from that came their first film “We Must Remember.”  The creation of this film gave 16 American teens the opportunity to discover the horrors of the Holocaust first hand by traveling to Europe and even interviewing German teens who had Nazi grandparents.  This film was not only educational, but also strived to portray an anti-bullying message and promote tolerance.

Fast forward several years and multiple awards later, CHSTV was now being offered many projects from fully funded donors seeking to create documentaries.  The San Diego Rotary was among this group.  They asked that the students to create a film on the immune system and how immunizations work in a 15 minute educational video.  Initially CHSTV turned down the offer.  It wasn’t until Lisa’s daughter’s puppy contracted the parvovirus (which is a vaccine-preventable disease that kills puppies) that the concept of immunizations really resonated among the students.  They recognized that because someone else didn’t vaccinate their dog, another could lose its life.  The students then accepted the project and began their research.

Shortly thereafter, a local newspaper ran an article about the project.  Almost immediately there were hundreds of comments from anti-vaccine advocates as well as a blog on the projected featured on a well-publicized anti-vaccine website.  The 2 adults on the project, Lisa and Doug (a broadcasting teacher turned film maker/director) threw their hands in the air and decided to scrap the project.  It was Lisa’s daughter, a senior in high school at this point, who said “Don’t you remember what we learned from the Holocaust film?  What happens when good people do nothing?”  Lisa and Doug agreed.  They refused to be bullied and this tiny project slowly became a full-fledged 40 minute documentary.  It’s also important to note that Lisa, Doug and the students went into this project as journalists.  Not for or against vaccines.  Simply looking to tell the truth, and in all honesty expecting to find something to substantiate the anti-vaccine communities concerns.  Where there’s smoke there is fire, right?  Wrong.

But of course the story doesn’t end there.  To get the full experience you need to join us for the film’s premiere!  It’s not often that high school film makers receive accolades from some of the nation’s top physicians and medical institutions.  Don’t’ miss out on this amazing experience.  Get your tickets today and join us for a night you won’t soon forget.

The Healthy Life

healthThe push for a healthier life through diet and exercise couldn’t be more prevalent than it is right now. So many people are looking to live a more “natural” lifestyle free from chemicals, dyes, and processed foods. I for one am a big supporter of this way of living. Speaking from personal experience, I have seen the difference a healthy diet makes in my children’s attitudes and ability to concentrate in our daily lives. Having a husband who suffered a heart attack at a very young age and knowing that my kids are at risk of having the same thing happen, what we put into our bodies is very important to me. Don’t get me wrong, we still indulge every once in a while (I can’t imagine a life without the occasional slice of cheese cake!) but for the most part we do our best to keep it healthy!

That being said, I know there are a lot of people who can’t imagine how a life filled with all natural foods could possibly coexist with vaccines. How could you possibly think injecting something made in a lab into your body goes along with a “natural” way of life? For me it’s not hard to understand. My family eats the way we do because we want our bodies to be healthy…my family is vaccinated against a list of potentially life threatening diseases for the very same reason.

If you still have trouble with this concept I’ve got the perfect story for you. Earlier this week a friend sent me an email with a link to an article titled “Growing Up Unvaccinated.” This is probably the best story I have seen that explains why living a healthy lifestyle is simply not enough. This woman, who grew up with, as she calls them, “health-nut parents,” did not have a healthy childhood because she was never vaccinated against preventable childhood illnesses. But her story doesn’t just start and stop with her upbringing. She goes on and explains that while she still believes in and eats a healthy diet, she now receives vaccines AND makes sure that her children receive theirs. The difference in her childhood health history and that of her children is remarkable. As a child, this woman contracted what seems to be virtually every vaccine-preventable disease imaginable, was constantly sick, and treated more times than she could remember with antibiotics. Her vaccinated children on the other hand have “rarely been ill” and have been treated with antibiotics maybe twice in their lives.

One of my favorite parts of this article focuses on what many anti-vaccine advocates use as an excuse to skip vaccination: complications from vaccines. She says:

“I struggle to understand why I know far more people who have experienced complications from preventable childhood illnesses than I have ever met with complications from vaccines.”

Through her life as an unvaccinated child she has seen first-hand the devastating effects that preventable childhood illnesses can cause (deafness from measles, blindness from rubella and even death from meningitis). As a result, this woman made the choice to vaccinate herself and her children.

So if you think you can’t live a healthy and “natural” life with vaccines…think again. You can eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, but without vaccines you are just tempting fate. The only way to prevent vaccine-preventable diseases is through immunization. Do your part and start living a healthy life today!

Happy New Year!

Happy-New-Year-2014What a year. 2013 was a year of ups and downs for so many I know and love. Personally, it was an important year for my family as we welcomed our third child. With all the joy she has brought to us I would be lying if I said we had not spent many sleepless nights and tear filled days attempting to learn the intricacies of being outnumbered by our children (not sure we will ever figure that one out!). Unfortunately this year has also brought pain and loss for some of those closest to us. We have had to sit back and watch first time parents spend months caring for a premature baby in the hospital (who is now home, happy, and healthy by the way), loved ones enduring painful operations, and we even mourned as people, both very young and old, lost their battle with cancer. It’s been quite the year.

 

As these people in our lives had to deal and cope with the situations put before them, I often found myself wishing there could have been a way to prevent these things from happening in the first place. No one ever wants illness or tragedy to strike, but sometimes it is unavoidable. That concept really made me think a lot about why I do what I do. About why spreading the message about the lifesaving power of vaccines is so important. As a mom, a sister, an aunt and a friend I want the people in my life to always be happy and healthy. Please take the time to protect yourself and your family this year against a LONG list of vaccine PREVENTABLE diseases. Don’t become a statistic. Don’t risk your life and potentially the lives of those around you when all you have to do is roll up your sleeve.
Wishing everyone a happy and healthy new year and please…prevent what’s preventable.