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Case Study: Maria's Health and Developmental Challenges

Threats to Health and Development

Case Study Overview:
Maria is an 8-year-old girl in Grade 3 at a local school in Toronto. She lives with her mother and 5-year-old brother, who attend junior kindergarten. The family left Colombia 3 years ago because of the political situation. Maria’s mother works part-time in a doughnut shop and is trying to attend an adult language class to learn English. Maria’s father is still in Colombia, and the family hasn’t heard from him for the past 9 months. The family is struggling financially and because of this, Maria’s mom is forced to purchase highly processed food at lower prices. The food that the family consumes is contributing to poor overall health for both Maria, her mother and her brother. Maria’s mother is a heavy smoker, which helps her to relieve her daily stress. The family is continually picking up colds, the flu and gastrointestinal upset. The family does not have a strong support system. Maris’s mother does not feel safe living in Toronto in part, because of the high level of neighbourhood violence that she witnesses. She knows that her fear is preventing Maria from developing relationships outside the family. She also knows that this social isolation is limiting Maria’s ability to learn, play and grow.

Maria was referred to a community pediatrician because she is having difficulty with her schoolwork. She is having problems learning to read and paying attention in class, and needs a lot of supervision to get her work done. Maria can be disruptive in class and picks fights with the teacher and students. She has trouble regulating her emotions. Maria is also undernourished and has dental cavities because she has not been to a dentist since arriving in Canada. The school health program at Maria’s school focuses mostly on physical exercise and healthy eating, due to the youth obesity epidemic. This upsets Maria, because she knows that her family cannot afford to buy the nutritious foods that her teachers tell her she must eat. In addition, because she is undernourished, she does not have much energy to participate in the physical activity program that the school endorses. All of this makes Maris feel ashamed and frustrated. She often feels bleak and overwhelmed with everything that she is dealing with, both at home and at school.

Given what you have read in this online session, answer the following questions:
1. What are the threats to both Maria’s health and child development?
2. From a community health perspective, what could be done to:  
a . assist Maria’s mom with the many challenges that she faces?
b. improve Maria’s physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development?
c. address the family’s unsafe feeling toward their neighbourhood environment?

3. Plan a school health program that addresses Maria’s physical, cognitive and social challenges

This plan should include an overall goal, two objectives for the program, and a description of the program activities themselves.

In your answers, be as comprehensive, specific, and detailed as possible. Be sure to explain your points clearly with proper English grammar and spelling.

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