It’s true, the chances of someone having a stroke at a young age are pretty slim. However, when you think about the age you begin forming life-long habits, it makes a lot of sense to teach children about their health and well-being at an early age.
Dr. Olajide Williams, Hip Hop Public Health Founder and Columbia University’s Chief of Staff of Neurology, realized this in 2005 while he was treating stroke patients at the Harlem Hospital Center. Dr. Williams was disheartened to find out that many of his patients did not know the early warning signs of a stroke. “I thought about the many lives we could save if only we could get to our patients sooner,” he recalled.
After one of his patients introduced him to the iconic rapper, Doug E. Fresh, the two of them quickly became friends and later went on to create “Stroke Ain’t No Joke” – a hip-hop song that taught children to recognize the early warning signs of a stroke.
“Because the things we learn as children have a great impact on us when we grow to become adults,” says Lori Rose Benson, Executive Director and CEO of Hip Hop Public Health. “Adults in turn can learn a lot from children too, it goes both ways.” she adds.
And why hip-hop music?
Hip-hop is the most dominant genre in the United States and it has incredible worldwide appeal. When you dig deep into the genre and its roots, it’s a story of resilience, metamorphosis and rising up to the social issues we face in our communities.
“What touches me the most is when I get to hear from students, teachers and parents about how their lives have been changed by Hip Hop Public Health,” shared Lori. One such story is about a young boy named Daniel who was a participant in the free Hip Hop Stroke program. When his father suddenly had a stroke, he immediately called 911 and saved his life after our animated musical cartoons helped him remember what to do.
After hearing about Daniel’s story, Rincon Jagarlamudi, a 16 year-old high school student from St. Louis, Missouri was inspired to start the Hip Hop Stroke program in his own community. Here is what he had to say:
Stories like this are reflected in the research from our Hip Hop Stroke program which was recently featured in the American Heart Association’s Stroke Journal, PubMed and more. Nearly 60% of the children who participated in the program now have optimal stroke knowledge (compared to 2% before the program) and 24% of them retained the information even after three months. Moreover, not only were the kids able to identify stroke symptoms but they went on to teach their parents as well.
If you’re interested in making a greater impact in people’s lives together, then please consider supporting Hip Hop Public Health. Here are a few ways you can help: