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This February Commit To Learning About Black Lives And How To Save Lives



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As a curiously un-winterlike January gives way to February, the new month offers folks around Newtown an opportunity to focus and learn about a couple of important things.

First and foremost, February is Black History Month. According to our colleagues at NPR, Black History Month got its start in the Jim Crow era and was officially recognized in 1976 as part of the nation’s bicentennial celebrations. It aims to honor the contributions that African Americans have made and to recognize their sacrifices.

Newtown is fortunate to offer community, academic, and social opportunities so anyone can connect with resources to enhance their knowledge of Black History — and then better apply that historical knowledge toward affecting contemporary social change.

Along with our C.H. Booth Library, our schools, and their libraries, residents are encouraged to get to know Newtown Allies For Change (NAFC). This local organization regularly hosts activities open to everyone, and is working with the public school district in February creating Black History Month bulletin boards in each of our schools highlighting accomplished Black Americans historically left out of American history lessons.

Among its efforts, NAFC offers a compelling, educational, and enlightening series of blog posts, a book group, and in-person social activities, and is in the process of screening the Hulu docuseries The 1619 Project. The next screenings of ongoing episodes are planned for February 9 and 23 at 6:30 pm at Trinity Episcopal Church, and will include discussions. Consider joining the events or getting involved by visiting NewtownAllies.org.

February is also American Heart Month.

Today, 120 million Americans live with some type of diagnosed heart disease, while millions of others are rolling through their daily lives undiagnosed. That lack of knowledge is likely among the reasons why cardiovascular disease claims about 700,000 lives every year — many from strokes and heart attacks.

We want to see that number reduced, especially here in Newtown. Whether you know it or not, Newtown was designated as a "Heart Safe Community" by the state chapter of the American Heart Association in October 2010.

And since your local newspaper humbly played a role in receiving that designation each February, The Newtown Bee expands related reporting on our Health Page and elsewhere in our weekly editions. This year’s Heart Month features will help local residents achieve and maintain better heart health by knowing their numbers, making smarter food and exercise choices, learning important information about how to administer lifesaving CPR, and how to use our community-based heart-starting automated external defibrillators or AEDs.

This February, we hope all residents will take the time to learn something new about Black History and the Black lives who have enriched our community, state, and nation, while also learning to save lives — whether through improving one’s own heart health or by learning CPR and how to apply an AED in the unlikely event of a cardiovascular emergency in your presence or to someone you love.

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