February — short, yet filled with kindness

If it feels like every day of the year is some sort of “national [insert food or item here — doughnuts, coffee, waffles, etc.] day,” that’s because, well, it is. The same goes for the months. Each month has several “themes.” In addition to February’s somewhat silly-sounding ones — Affair to Remember Month (yes, for the movie), Great American Pie Month, and National Bird Feeding Month, to name a few — here are some that may inspire you to make an impact this month.

Just in case you feel like this post is tl;dr — here is a synopsis:

February, Heart, Black History, Children’s Dental Health

American Heart Month

The first American Heart Month took place in February 1964, having been declared by President Lyndon B. Johnson at the end of the previous year. In his declaration, President Johnson highlighted the fact that heart and circulatory-system diseases were responsible for more than half of the deaths each year in the U.S. at the time (today it is the leading cause of death for American men and women). With more than half the Americans with cardiovascular diseases having been diagnosed during their most productive years, Johnson recognized the economic and societal implications as well. The goal of American Heart Month, therefore, is to raise awareness about healthy eating and exercise habits, healthy weight and heart-attack prevention.

Some relevant nonprofits:

The American Heart Association is, without a doubt, the leading and most vocal organization on cardiovascular diseases and heart health. In addition to providing healthy-living tips and conducting research on heart disease and stroke, AHA runs its Go Red for Women campaign to raise awareness about heart disease in women in particular. (American Heart Association on Quiv)

The International Children’s Heart Foundation cares for children with congenital heart defects around the world, provides medical supplies and medications to facilities in developing countries and trains surgeons and medical staff in those countries to perform heart surgery and treat the local population. (International Children’s Heart Foundation on Quiv)

The Men’s Health Network (MHN) aims to reach men and boys and provide healthy-living guidelines, tools for disease prevention, advocacy opportunities and educational materials. MHN recognizes that on average men live shorter lives than women, in many cases because of cardiovascular diseases, and therefore promotes healthy habits for men. (Men’s Health Network on Quiv)

Black History Month

In 1926, the African-American historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for Negro Life and History declared the second week of February (during which the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass fall) “Negro History Week,” which focused on teaching African-American history in public schools throughout the U.S. In February 1970, students at Kent State University celebrated the first Black History Month, and six years later it became officially recognized by the U.S. government as part of the country’s bicentennial. Canada also celebrates Black History Month in February, while the United Kingdom celebrates it in October.

Some relevant nonprofits:

The Association for the Study of African-American Life and History was established by Carter G. Woodson in 1915 and carries forth his work, creating and disseminating knowledge about Black life, history and culture. (Association for the Study of African-American Life and History on Quiv)

The African American Experience Fund of the National Park Foundation supports and preserves African American history found in national parks throughout the U.S. The fund runs preservation, education and outreach initiatives. (African American Experience Fund of the National Park Foundation on Quiv)

Facing History and Ourselves educates teachers and students on racism and prejudice throughout history in order to make them into more humane and informed citizens. (Facing History and Ourselves on Quiv)

International Development Exchange (IDEX) is the global partner of the Black Lives Matter Network (BLM). The two organizations work together to combat racism and empower Black and African communities around the world. A 30-year-old grantmaking organization, IDEX receives donations on behalf of BLM and mentors and grows the young network. (International Development Exchange on Quiv )

National Children’s Dental Health Month

Children’s Dental Health Day was first observed in February 1941 in Ohio. Eight years later, the American Dental Association celebrated it nationally. It became a weeklong celebration in 1955, which officially led to the establishment of National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM) in 1981. Acknowledging that tooth decay is the leading chronic illness in children and that American children miss 51 million hours of school due to tooth pain, NCDHM seeks to educate families and children about oral health and healthy habits.

Some relevant nonprofits:

The American Dental Association was founded in 1859 and is the largest dental association in the United States, with more than 161,000 dentist members. It has become a leader in dental-health-related education, advocacy and research.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of some 66,000 pediatricians through the U.S. who support and work toward the optimal physical, mental and social health of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. The AAP has a special section on oral health with guidelines and information on where to get fluoride and treatment.