Our children are growing up in the age of pervasive junk. This junk comes by way of junk information, junk food, and junk education. Parenting in the 21st century comes with plenty of challenges; in most households, two working parents makes it hard for mom and dad to spend quality time with their children and to ensure that the little ones are being nurtured in ways that is healthy mentally, physically and spiritually. Navigating the minefield of parenthood is thus complex and daunting; everything from what to feed kids and what to let children watch on TV is a source of deep consternation and never-ending contemplation.
This is where Haas Diop chose to leave his mark and to make a difference in ways that benefit those who have yet to exit their formative years. Seeing a landscape where children are growing up connected to smartphones and eating foods that might be convenient but are harmful to their development, Haas donned his holistic health practitioner hat and leveraged his knowledge and education in order to provide a healthy alternative for children. After putting his thinking cap on and trying to figure out the best way to make healthy “cool” and accepted by the youth, he realized that a book with illustrations and a catchy character was exactly what was needed in order to captivate the minds of the wee ones and in the process teach them meaningful lessons that can edify them into the future.
Thus was born Dr. Pooch; a “get well Johnny series” that leads children on a journey of healthy consumption, exercising and education apart from mindless video games and junk laden media content. In a way, Dr. Pooch is a response to icons like Ronald McDonald and the Trix Bunny; Haas emulated the characters which we all remember as children to introduce Dr. Pooch–except Dr. Pooch is actually offering children edification instead of teaching children bad habits. Imagine Exploring Dora or SpongeBob Squarepants with a twist, where kids are taught the value of nutritious food and healthy habits without lectures and admonitions.
There is a moral imperative to Haas’s venture. Obesity is an epidemic in America that is leading to all kinds of unintended consequences. If we do not attack health at the root by changing our lifestyles, no amount of health care and insurance will keep up with the harm we are creating. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure but no amount of cure can prevent a self-inflicted wound. If we are more deliberate with our day to day choices with respect to food, exercise and our mental focus, we can stave off endless number of diseases and ailments that rob us of a long and healthy life that we all deserve.
Habits, whether good or bad, are formed and fortified at an early age. This is why companies spend billions of dollars in marketing and subliminal messages aimed at children. The younger a child’s mind is hooked to a brand or a bad habit, the more likely the imposed disposition will follow that child for a lifetime. To this day, I have the hardest time saying no to a McDonald’s hamburger with French fries in between the bun and the burger. That is because this bad habit of eating cholesterol and nitrate induced junk that McDonald’s peddles was picked up when I was seven years old. At the age of 42, I struggle to ward off this conniption of eating greasy burgers and empty calories offered by fast food restaurants.
Imagine then if I was treated to cartoons and characters that made it cool to eat spinach or taught me to avoid fast food in ways that preteens can understand. This is precisely what Haas set about to accomplish when he created Dr. Pooch. Dr. Pooch is a series of books that teaches kids the difference between good food and bad food, makes the concept of super foods seem like a super hero, and provides an alternative to the multi-billion dollar junk food industry that is at the root of obesity and copious other ill effects that are betrothed to children as a consequence of externally induced bad habits.
There is another aspect of Dr. Pooch which stands out for me beyond the benefits of teaching our children to make healthy food and life decisions. As much as our food choices impact our lives, economic choices have an even bigger impact on our abilities to lead a life free of anxiety. If we do not get away from submitting to the corporate beasts which are offered to us by way of mainstream media, politics, and the endless products we consume, we are giving our hand to economic dependency and a life of perpetual uncertainty. The way to economic freedom for our communities is through economic reinvestment. Thus another imperative; instead of investing in corporate mis-educational drivel, give children something that is beneficial to them while benefiting our communities and localities in the process.
The best education after all is when we are young enough to process information without the rigidity of life experiences setting in and fortifying bad habits into our minds. This is why it is said of the young that they are impressionable; it is best to impress in their minds healthy habits and good decision making process instead of letting outside forces lead them into a life of materialism and junk consumption. What better person to teach this lesson than Dr. Pooch and his Superfood friends. Haas came up with a great idea to counter the programming aimed at children that is omnipresent in mass media; it is up to us as adults to provide this benefit to our children. #DrPoochEdifies
“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” ~ Frederick Douglass
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Click on the picture below or click (LINK)to be directed to the Dr. Pooch storefront.
Meet the Author Haas Diop by clicking on picture below or click (LINK)
Big Shout out to Weyni, Haas’s wife and soulmate and the amazing camerawoman who took the feature picture for this article. As everyone knows, a man who accomplishes has a woman to thank for without women, men would not exist. Click the picture below or (LINK) to say tadias to Weyni.
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.