Monday, November 2, 2015

Tickets please!

A man sits in a wheelchair and explains how he lost two feet to diabetes-related complications, but that he’s relieved he is no longer in excruciating pain.

A health educator’s eyes well with tears as she talks about the ways she’s seen high school students improve their health thanks to a public health program that has them cooking meals together and exercising daily.

A former computer programmer shows off the fresh greens in his garden and smiles, saying his life is so much better now that his job involves tilling the soil.

The films of the Global Public Health Film Festival are powerful examples of how public health changes lives. At this morning’s session on chronic disease prevention and management, highlights included a California-based community wellness program, diabetes prevention outreach among indigenous residents of New Zealand and how parents in one Virginia county mobilized to help more kids bike or walk to school.

Whether clips of longer, feature-length films, public service announcements or telenovellas, the films hit home with anyone who cares about public health. Filmmakers often are available at the end of each session to answer audience questions and discuss how they came up with the concept of their films.

Some of the films use actors to dramatize or comedy on the screen, while others, like this morning’s film on how diabetes is hitting hard in a community in rural Mexico, showcase real people talking about real health issues, problems and solutions. Many remind us of this unyielding public health truth: community members are the best agents of change in their own neighborhoods.

Films cover a range of fascinating public health topics, from mental health to human trafficking to inspiring action and using effective storytelling. The film festival runs through Wednesday at 2 p.m. in McCormick Place W180 and is a great way to take a load off your tired feet and be inspired about so much of the good work being done in public health all over the world.

— D.C.

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