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Health is education and education is health, and one can’t untangle the two, Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman said in his keynote speech at WISH 2020 on Monday.
He stressed the role of education systems in preserving the efficiency of healthcare systems. He also highlighted the importance of working together to combat climate change and putting trust in science and education to create a healthier world for future generations.
Freeman explained how health is connected with every other issue and how he started working to support the community in the place he called home several years ago through his Tallahatchie River Foundation which supports early childhood education.
According to him, he knew the difference that education made to him when growing up. “That’s why I wanted to help the next generation growing up in Mississippi by ensuring there was investment in early childhood educators, resources to local schools and childcare providers as well as support for new parents.”
Talking about how early childhood education is linked to health, Freeman said, “One thing I have learnt is health is education and education is health; you can’t untangle the two and you can’t solve one without the other. Healthier kids learn more; well-educated kids live longer and healthier lives. No matter your background or your start in life, no matter whether you grew up by the Tallahatchie River or the River Ganges, you deserve access to good education and quality healthcare. No wonder my hero Nelson Mandela said, ‘health cannot be a question of income; it is a fundamental right’.”
He said that we are seeing threats to our health alongside existential threats to our planet. “Extreme weather is ravaging communities and closing schools. No child should grow up destined to lifelong ill health because the generation before them didn’t know when to stop consuming. We have more displaced children today living in refugee camps or living in conflict zones or post-conflict zones than at any time since the end of World War-2. Scientists tells us that it creates toxic stress and toxic stress changes a child’s brain chemistry which can lead to lifelong problems in learning, as well as to heart disease, diabetes and depression in adulthood.”
Freeman said that challenges to education, health, climate change can be addressed if people work together. “Today’s children should not grow up unsure if the world of tomorrow will have the natural resources to sustain them. If we take responsibility for climate change by reducing our levels of consumption, there’s still hope that we can save the planet. If we trust science rather than fake news and if we put our trust in the healthcare community, we will get through the current pandemic. This has been an extremely challenging year, but right across the world we have been witnessing great courage, cooperation and compassion. If we work together, we will heal,” he added.
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