Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County

PHOTO CAPTIONS

Top: Psychologist Dr. Robin Walsh tells Kiwanis of Dougherty members the benefits of adopting healthy lifestyle practices for improved brain performance. (Photos by David Shivers)

Middle: Doug Lorber assists Dr. Robin Walsh with a simple exercise testing brain reaction time.

Bottom: Dr. Walsh is greeted by Magistrate Judge Baxter Howell after the Kiwanis meeting.

With baby-boomers hitting or well into their senior years and Generation Xers on the cusp of middle age, protecting and enhancing brain function is an increasingly relevant topic. Albany psychologist Dr. Robin Walsh brought a message to the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County on July 14 about new research findings and ways to achieve better brain function as we age.

According to Walsh, her message was about brain fitness and “pertaining to how it’s related to your mental sharpness. Keep in mind this is not the same as IQ, which really can’t be changed too much, but it’s more to do with mental sharpness, which you do have some control over.” More and more, she said, research is showing “that you actually do have a good bit of control of aging of your brain.”

Dr. Walsh administered a brief “brain teaser” exercise to determine mental acuity, “which is something you can work on. The benefit of this type of exercise is to recognize how the brain works. For example, our brain tends to see what we want to see or expect to see.” The value of the exercise, she added, “is stretching your brain beyond its normal ways of thinking. The more you practice teasing your brain, the better mental sharpness you will have.”

The goal is maintaining the brain’s ability to function while continuing to make new neural connections. “Connections between the neurons,” said Walsh, “are necessary for the brain to operate at its best.”

So how can brain fitness be achieved? Dr. Walsh described several relevant factors. “We can control the health of our brains by making specific lifestyle choices, regardless of our age, which will improve the health of our brain.” Individuals can make choices that influence neural plasticity, which is defined as “the changing of the structure, function and organization of neurons in response to new experiences.”

Specifically, there are seven areas where choices can be made that can determine future brain performance:1) staying mentally active and challenging yourself; 2) choosing foods that protect brain cells and promote brain health, while avoiding foods that age the brain; 3) staying physically active; 4) getting enough sleep; 5) staying socially engaged; 6) nurturing your spiritual side; and 6) talking with your doctor. Following these guidelines can hold off mental decline by an average of nine years, depending what is done and when it is started, according to Walsh.

To stay mentally active, Walsh encourages people to work for as long as they can, or to find volunteer activities. Also, taking classes or working crosswords, Sudoku, or brain teasers helps, as do such things as writing, chess, drawing and painting, playing a musical instrument, and even video games, which can enable creative problem solving and faster thinking. Other options are changing your usual routine (such as your driving  route from one place to another), switching to your non-dominant hand, and tutoring or teaching others, which relies on applying past experiences and drawing on problem-solving skills.

Diet plays a vital role in brain fitness. It should include foods containing DHA (a building block important to brain development that can protect against brain disorders) such as olive oil, salmon, fortified juice, milk, eggs, or yogurt. Another important brain-health supporter is Vitamin E, which is found in milk, butter, eggs, vegetable oils, nuts, wheat germ, and dark leafy greens. Some of these foods also contain the three B vitamins (folic acid, B6 and B12) that can help decrease the risk of dementia, and fruits such as red grapes, cranberries, and blueberries have been shown to reduce inflammation injurious to brain health. Keeping calorie intake has also been linked to decreased mental decline in later life.

There are also foods that have been determined unhealthy for good brain function: white-flour baked goods, alcohol, hard cheeses and processed dairy products; sugary foods including soft drinks, fruit drinks, and sweet breakfast cereals; creamy sauces; hydrogenated  oils and transfats; mayonnaise, and packaged convenience foods and fast foods.

Good physical health is closely linked to brain health, Dr. Walsh emphasized, because it encourages the growth of new brain cells and connections. She urged 30 minutes of exercise every day. Physical exercise helps improve blood flow and oxygen to the brain for the growth of brain cell branches (dandrites) and brain density. Loss of brain density is a major factor in mental decline. Also, weight-lifting or other weight-bearing exercise enhances levels of serotonin and dopamine, two chemicals directly related to brain aging.

Getting 7 to 8 hours of good sleep nightly is vital for brain health. According to research findings, sleep helps keep the brain healthy by giving the body a chance to clean toxins from the brain as well as making repairs.

Staying socially active with family and friends is a key to happiness and brain health, as social activity promotes creation of new brain cells and supports brain repair

Good mental health practices are needed. Find healthy ways to cope with stress, because excessive stress over time kills brain cells and ages the brain more quickly. A positive outlook keeps the brain open to new possibilities, while negativity can prevent continued learning and growth, leading to faster brain aging.

Nurturing the spiritual self – through prayer, meditation, reflection, and time-outs – gives the brain space to make connections between the heart, mind, and body. The brain is wired for spiritual experiences.

Finally, talking to your doctor can produce ways to improve brain fitness. For example, low-dose aspirin has been found in some studies to possibly reduce the risk of dementia by 10 to 50 percent. Improving your blood pressure can decrease the risk of cognitive decline in old age. If you are diabetic, ask how to improve your blood sugar, since diabetes is an important risk factor for dementia. And, keep a check on your cholesterol levels; high levels of bad LDL increase dementia risk, as do low levels of good HDL cholesterol.

“Fitness of the brain is as important as physical health,” Dr. Walsh continued, “maybe even more, because you can have a perfectly-fit body, but if your brain is diseased then it doesn’t do you any good. Your brain is responsible for directing operations of everything you do and every thought you have. Fitness of the brain plays a critical role in learning, decision-making, working, playing…even your personality.”

PHOTO CAPTIONS

Top: Charles Cowart of Still Pond Winery and Distillery speaks to Kiwanis of Dougherty County members about new developments at the popular area attraction.

Middle: An array of Still Pond wines and spirits were on display at the Kiwanis DoCo meeting.

Bottom: From left, Kiwanians Ken Rodd, Scott Brown, Liz Williams, Sharon Gross, and Jo Ann Wright look over Still Pond’s products after the meeting.

Still Pond Vineyard and Winery is moving ahead now with its new venture: distilling spirits.

Charles Cowart of Still Pond told the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County on July 7 that he is hopeful conflicting regulatory hurdles are behind now. For a period, Still Pond was making wine and whiskey but were unable to either sell or offer tastings of their wine products on-site.

“The unique thing about (making liquor) here, and I think what got us in trouble, is we’re the only winery/distillery in the state,” according to Cowart. “They didn’t know what to do with us. And the regulations were open to all matter of interpretation. We got a positive interpretation one time and a negative interpretation a few months later, and we had to back away…but hopefully that’s all behind us.”

Still Pond is currently producing a muscadine moonshine, as well as double-barreled and peach-flavored shines. Additional flavors are coming in the future, Cowart added.

“You probably say, ‘Why moonshine?’ Moonshine is the first you get (in the distilling process). We needed some revenue, we needed some income. We’d been working on this for about three years and we needed to put something on the market. So we decided on moonshine.” They’re putting a premium product on the market, said Cowart.

“We also have spirits in barrels aging, which we’ll bring out in a few more months,” including specialty whiskeys and vodka, which Cowart described as “top-shelf vodka, very smooth. It’s going to be our flagship, I hope, on the vodka” line.

“We’re running two stills, a pot still and a column still,” he said. “Both of these were hand-made in Portugal . So, we’re using some of the old-world expertise in what we’re doing with our spirits. The pot steel is giving us the moonshine, brandy, and specialty whiskeys, and the column still will give us vodka.”

Cowart reminded the audience that Still Pond didn’t get its name because the waters there are still. In earlier times that moniker was bestowed on it because there were a number of liquor-producing stills in its vicinity. Legend has it that a customer could leave $2 on a particular tree stump and come back the next day to find a bottle of moonshine had “magically” appeared there,

While Still Pond is excited about its spirits, said Cowart, “We’re by no means backing away from any of our wines. We have 180 acres of grapes, so we’re utilizing about 25 percent of those in our wine-making, for spirits we can use another 15 to 20 percent.” The balance of the grapes are sold to customers for use in their own products.

Still Pond thus far has produced 11 award-winning vintages, which can be found on the shelves of Albany’s most prominent liquor retailers.

Still Pond, a family operation located on Still Pond Road off of GA 62 five miles west of Leary (watch for the sign on the highway at Williamsburg Road), had hoped to host a 10th anniversary event last December for the winery but were not able to do that or the annual April Spring Festival due to the moratorium on tastings. Cowart said they “hope to make up for it the first Saturday in August with our Grape Stomp Festival. Hopefully we’ll have music, local arts and crafts, and vendors coming out, and we would love for any and all of ya’ll to come join us and bring a lawn chair or a blanket. We’ll furnish the gnat spray.” And, of course, the wine.

 

PHOTO CAPTIONS:

Top: Tina Natoli and Ben Clenney get acquainted after the Kiwanis meeting and program.

Middle: Tina performs “America the Beautiful” to Charlie’s guitar accompaniment.

Bottom: Tina and Charlie harmonize together on a love ballad.

Tina Natoli and Charlie Meyer helped set the stage at the June 30 meeting for the upcoming July 4 holiday, regaling the club with a repertoire of patriotic and love songs. They performed “America the Beautiful”, “Georgia on My Mind”, and “God Bless the USA”, among others.Tina and Charlie first met through the Albany Chorale and have been performing as a duo for nearly two years at events and venues around the area. Tina is also choir director for St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church and Charlie teaches guitar lessons at Porter Music on Westover Boulevard.

PHOTO CAPTIONS

Top: Babs Hall delivers her informative message on suicide prevention to the  Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County. (Photo by David Shivers)

Middle: Babs Hall, co-chair of the Southwest Georgia Suicide Prevention Coalition is welcomed by DoCo Kiwanian Richard Brown following her presentation. (Photo by David Shivers)

Bottom: Jere Brands, Albany chapter NAMI president, and Babs Hall chat after the Kiwanis meeting. (Photo by David Shivers)


“Those are pretty staggering statistics.”

That was Babs Hall’s comment on the national and international numbers regarding suicide she had just presented to the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County at their June 23 meeting. Hall is co-chair of the Southwest Georgia Suicide Prevention Coalition.

The figures included: Worldwide, one million people die every year by suicide, or one person every 40 seconds. Also, suicide is currently the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and “we also know that 90 percent of the individuals that take their own life have at least one, or often more than one, treatable mental illness.”

Hall said her interest in suicide prevention came as she was just out of college and working as a caseworker for the state Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS). She been assigned a case where a single father was raising his 14-year-old daughter, who had been temporarily removed from the home for  safety reasons.

She was scheduled to meet with the father one evening and arrived at the house. She knocked on the door but no one answered, which she didn’t understand because she knew the father was expecting her.  She knocked again, but eventually wedged her business card in the door and left.

“So, that evening about 8 o’clock I got a call from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and the gentleman I had gone to call on that evening had committed suicide that night. So my job was to go and tell this 14-year-old girl that her daddy had taken his own life. There is nothing in college that prepares you for that. I believe that aside from Jesus Christ, no man can walk on water, He was the only man who could walk on water. And I had to tell this 14-year-old girl that the man she thought walked on water wasn’t with her any more. So I called and then went to the house and knocked on the door, and as soon as she saw my face, she knew. She was 14 years old and she knew. And I just talked to her and we cried, the two of us cried together. And as we calmed down and we were able to talk about what needed to happen, she said, ‘You know, my daddy called me tonight, and he told me he was sorry,’” Hall recounted.

“I tell you this tragically painful story to let you know that this is a serious, serious problem. It hurts professionals that are in control, it hurts family members, it hurts co-workers, it hurts community members,” Hall said. “We see it on the news and we don’t understand it. But the worst part about not understanding it is, we’re afraid to talk about it.”

Hall compared current attitudes about suicide to changed perceptions about cancer, particularly breast  and prostate cancer.

“Can you remember a time when we didn’t talk about cancer? We didn’t wear pink to recognize breast cancer (research and survivors), or play fun games on Facebook to celebrate…and to encourage those who are a victim of that disease and their families. It was taboo.”

That has changed and Hall believes a day will come when suicide will be treated the same way. “How can we continue to educate ourselves if we don’t talk about it?” She looks for the day when “we can talk  openly, honestly with each other about suicide so we can look at ways we can prevent it, just like we do cancer,” as well as ways to support families affected by it.

She encouraged her audience to talk to their families about it and about family medical history. There was a history that she discovered after she became an adult, she said, of suicides on both sides of her family, “but no one ever talked about it. There was a stigma behind it. It’s just as much a part of your medical history as your cholesterol and your weight and your blood pressure is.” Often when a suicide occurs, there is a family history of it, so it’s vital for people and their children to know this information, Hall emphasized.

Hall enumerated suicide risk factors and warning signs: a previous suicide attempt, a family history, or a serious medical condition. Having the risk factors doesn’t mean “you’re going to develop the disease,” she noted. “It does not automatically mean you are doomed. But it’s important for us to verify that people have these risk factors that can contribute to them being potentially someone who dies by suicide.”

There are also protective factors, she continued. Receiving effective mental health care; childhood connection to peers, family members, and the community; and the skill and ability to solve problems all help in preventing suicide.

A group got together in July 2013, and with the help of local National Alliance on Mental Illness president Jere Brands and Dougherty County Coroner Michael Fowler, Sr., established the Southwest Georgia Suicide Prevention Coalition.

“Within 12 months we have hosted one event for the community where survivors of suicide were able to come out and express their grief and their loss. We also have suicide support group facilitators for suicide survivors here in Dougherty County,” said Hall. The coalition has also participated in several local festivals.

So far the coalition has no outside funding source, only volunteers and private donations, Hall said, but she aid she had just gotten word the week before that the Georgia Department of Behavioral Disorders and Development Disabilities has awarded them a $4,000 grant, “so if we did all that with zero dollars, I’m just absolutely beyond ecstatic about what we can do with just a little bit of money.”

Hall also reaffirmed that emergency help and information for mental health, drugs, or alcohol are available 24 hours a day year-round through the toll-free Georgia Crisis & Access hotline, 1-800-715-4225. For more information about the coalition, Southwest Georgia Survivors of Suicide Support Group, or other available resources, please contact Babs Hall by phone or email, 229-234-7954 or AlbanySurvivors@gmail.com. You can also visit them at www.facebook.com/swgasuicideprevention.

 

PHOTO CAPTIONS

Dr. Price Corr speaks with Jere Brands about mental health issues after Brands’ Kiwanis club presentation. (Photo by David Shivers)

Jere Brands, president of the Albany chapter of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), displays a model of the human brain as she talks  to the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County about mental illness, its impact, and resources for coping and recovery. (Photo by David Shivers)

“We used to actually not talk about cancer, and certainly not breast cancer and not prostate cancer. Today we do talk about those things, and I say why not talk about mental illness?”

That was the question posed by Jere Brands, president of the Albany chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), to the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County on June 16.

Brands’ goal for her talk was to increase awareness and knowledge about mental illness and to spotlight resources for education and treatment, as well as support measures for family members of the mentally ill.

Brands said that mental illness is “actually physiological” and based in the brain. “They are called behavior disorders sometimes. Actually the behaviors are symptoms of the illness.”

She added, “A lot is known about the brain today and a lot of research about the brain has been done since the 1980s. Before that, not much. The recent concentration on brain research by the National Institutes of Health classifies mental illness as a neurological condition,” a spectrum that can also include addiction, chronic pain, dementia, depression, schizophrenia, and multiple sclerosis.

Mental illness is perhaps more widespread than people like to believe. Brands cited some statistics: One in five youths aged 13 to 18 has a severe mental problem in any given year; over one percent of the population has schizophrenia; 2.6 percent have bipolar disorder; 6.7 percent suffer from major depression. In in the United States, 18 percent of the population has an anxiety disorder; 20 percent of prisoners have a diagnosed mental illness.

“(Prisoners’) behavior leads them to commit acts that aren’t legal,” said Brands. “The Los Angeles jail is the largest institution for mental health in the United States. The reason for that is that less than 40 percent of those who are ill actually see a mental health professional. Why not? They don’t want to believe, and their families don’t want to believe, they are ill.” One of the symptoms of schizophrenia is a person not believing they are mentally ill.

“That being a symptom means that people refuse to seek help,” said Brands, “and when they are given medication they don’t want to take it.”

Signs or symptoms of mental illness in about 75 percent of cases generally appear before the age of 24, said Brands, so it is important to recognize potential signs and get help early.

“We have to recognize symptoms very early, instead of ignoring them, and then do something about it. It’s very important. People don’t want to believe, and it’s not something that’s pleasant to deal with.” She also pointed out, “If you have a child under 18 with symptoms, you have a lot more influence with medical decisions that are made for that person, because as you know, after (age) 18 the ill person has more rights than anyone else. When the ill person can’t think correctly, it becomes very complicated.”

Resources for help and support are available in Albany through NAMI and other sources, including NAMI’s national website. NAMI Albany hosts twice-monthly support group meetings and a 12-week education class, led by Brands, will start in September. The course covers topics such as illnesses and triumphs, what’s currently happening with mental health and illnesses, coping skills, and communication skills that can be used by families “to make life that’s been touched by mental illness be better.”

Two other help sources are Phoebe Putney Behavioral Health Center with in-patient and out-patient services and state-funded Aspire (formerly known as the Albany Area Community Services Board). Also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week year-round is the Georgia Crisis & Access Line (1-800-715-4225 or www.mygal.com) for help with mental health, drugs, or alcohol problems.

“Georgia is really unique,” said Brands, “in that there is what is called ‘one-point access.’ You can call this (crisis) number even if you have a question about mental health. They will give you access to what  you need, anything from expediting an appointment with a mental health professional to mobile crisis teams, which we also have in this area, who will go to the place where somebody is having a mental health  crisis.”

Another area in which NAMI is active is crisis intervention team (CIT) training for law enforcement personnel to teach officers how to defuse a mental health situation. The Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office is coordinating that for this area, Brands said.

“There is something called ‘death by cop,’” said Brands, “where someone who is diagnosed or untreated really would  like to die but don’t want to kill themselves, so they have a stand-off with police and make the police do it for them.”

For people who might consider joining a NAMI support group, Brands emphasized there is a 12-point “Group Principles of Support” to which the organization nationwide strictly adheres: 1) We will see the individual first, not the illness; 2) We recognize that mental illnesses are medical illnesses that may have environmental triggers; 3) We understand that mental illnesses are traumatic events; 4) We aim for better coping skills; 5) We find strength in sharing experiences; 6) We reject stigma and do not tolerate discrimination; 7) We won’t judge anyone’s pain as less than our own; 8) We forgive ourselves and reject guilt; 9) We embrace humor as healthy; 10) We accept we cannot solve all problems; 11) We expect a better future in a realistic way; and 12) We will never give up hope.

NAMI started in Wisconsin in 1979 with just two mothers of children with schizophrenia. Today there are affiliates in all 50 states with a common goal, according to Brands, “to free those who live with mental illnesses and their families from stigma and discrimination and to assure them access to world-class mental-health treatment to speed their recovery. Because recovery is possible, even chronic (mental) diseases. Most of them you have to live with, but with treatment, you can live with them.”

For more information about mental illness and NAMI Albany, Jere Brands can be contacted by e-mail at brandsfarm@gmail.com. Other contacts are Pam Barfield, blmbarfield@aol.com, 229-343-8791; John Holt, johnholt8@msn.com, and Alan White, alan.white@att.net.

 

Rob Collins gestures to make a point during his presentation to the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County. (Photo by David Shivers)

Technology is a necessity in the 21st Century business world, and according to a local technology expert, it is vital for CEOs and business owners to understand why and how their organization is using its various facets.

According to Robert Collins, founder and CEO of NEOS Technologies, many company leaders make large investments in technological equipment or software without understanding its full potential. He told the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County on June 9, “As a consumer, I want people in positions of authority to understand these things. As a business owner, I see it every day. I see people in positions buying things and then getting in trouble because they didn’t understand the impact of that decision. You know, in business schools we don’t teach technology classes about impact on businesses. We’re learning as we go.”

The top person in any company, even if they delegate the actual work to another person, said Collins, should have an understanding of any technology’s goals or purpose for the company and how the technology can and does affect the company’s future.

“What do you do with technology in your organization, what impact does it have? Are you using your technology correctly? Are your clients or your vendors? It’s important to use that technology routinely and correctly. When you spend money on it, you want to get a return on your investment,” said Collins.

Also, “It’s important to surround yourself with the right people to help (navigate). I’m not talking about fixing computers or fax machines. I’m talking about how technology actually is used in an organization. The technology must be in line with the organization’s mission and goals. So, as a CEO or business owner, I have to look at technology and say ‘Is it in line with what I want to create? Do I see it as a strategy? Do I see it as an enabler?”

Collins stressed that technology in today’s world impacts the visibility of every business, school, healthcare provider, and government entity through digital means, including credit cards, computers, smartphones, e-mail, and software, impacting online reputation, and client/patient/citizen engagement. He touched on five points, noting first that technology affects organizations via people (teams, clients, vendors, and regulatory agencies), daily routines, finances, operations and marketing/sales.

Number two, is information technology aligned correctly with the organization’s mission, vision, and goals? When planning for the next year, is IT part of the thought process? Do you reevaluate whether the current IT strategy is meeting your needs?

Number three, securing your data: What precautions are being taken to ensure corporate and client data is secure? “Protections are important to what we call business continuity,” said Collins. “You don’t want your business interrupted because of some technology malfunction…As CEO I should understand how these (measures) how these not only protect my business but also protect my clients and how it could affect them.” Security policies also need to cover personal phones on which employees may be storing company information and measures to locate and retrieve a phone if it is stolen or wipe data from it remotely.

Fourth, what and how do you integrate new and/or updated technologies? When does implementing new technologies make the most sense? How does the implementation affect the present and future of the organization?

Lastly, use the data collected to make decisions, Collins advised. Today’s environment is data driven. Use  data to create a competitive advantage.

Collins, a Sylvester native and U.S. Air Force veteran, has extensive experience in information technology, especially in the medical field. He founded NEOS Technologies, Inc., in 2003. NEOS’ mission is to aid organizations in leveraging technology to achieve the highest level of success. He is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County and is very active in the Lee County community as well, serving on the Lee County Chamber of Commerce board of directors, the Lee County Family Connection Collaboration, and the Business and Computer Science Advisory Committee for Lee County and Westover high schools. Collins and his wife Amy  have two children.

PHOTO CAPTIONS

Top, Michael Fowler, Sr., demonstrates how a child’s arm can be dislocated by pulling on it too hard, and in the second, third, and fourth photos, respectively, the county coroner is greeted after the meeting by Kiwanians Harry Futral, Joan Poole, and Charlie Jenkins.

One of the hardest things about his job as coroner for Dougherty County, says Michael Fowler, Sr., is responding to a call about the death of a child.

Fowler, a father and grandfather who was elected coroner in 2012, spoke to the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County on June 2 about ways to prevent child deaths.

In Dougherty County alone, in 2013 and thus far in 2014, there have been eight child deaths reported due to various causes: two attributed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), two by drowning, one by homicide blunt force trauma, two struck by vehicles, and one dead at Phoebe Putney Hospital but with cause of death undetermined.

According to information presented by Fowler, “The duty of the coroner is to find the medical cause of death of an individual in the event of an inquiry. Not all deaths are reported to the coroner, in fact, most deaths are only reported to the deceased’s doctor. A death is reported to a coroner only when the deceased has received no medical treatment or has died within 24 hours of being admitted to a medical facility.

“The coroner reviews the findings and decides whether the death was natural or unnatural. In the case of unnatural deaths, the coroner has the body examined by a forensic pathologist to determine the cause of death. Contrary to popular belief, the coroner does not autopsy the body. If the death is ruled unnatural, the coroner initiates the investigation.”

Manners of death fall into five categories: natural causes, homicide, accidental, suicide, and undetermined.

Child deaths can result from a wide range of causes: accidental firearm (often from children playing with or showing guns to other children); child abuse and neglect (reports are that more than 2,000 children die annually of this in the U.S.); drowning (1,236 children drowned in the U.S. in 2000 and toddler boys under age 4 appear to be at the highest risk); homicide by firearm (an average of 10 children or teens daily die in this country by intentional gunshot, often at the hands of other teens); motor vehicle; natural deaths to infants excluding SIDS; natural deaths over one year of age; other accidents; SIDS; suffocation; and suicide.

Fowler cautioned, “You need to be very careful what kind of caregiver you’ve got watching over your children.” Some caregivers, he opined, are interested in the money but pay little attention to their charges or are even abusive.

He also warned about a common seemingly harmless activity: throwing a baby or child up in the air and catching them. “You throw the child up in the air and they laugh and you think it’s funny,” he said, “but when they come down and you grab them, you easily can fracture a child’s rib.”

Death or permanent injury can occur due to shaken baby syndrome. This can damage a baby’s brain by bouncing it around inside the skull or break a child’s neck, Fowler said.

Suffocation can occur when a baby’s face becomes trapped in too much bedding. And, “We’ve had parents roll over and smother a baby sleeping in the bed with them.”

Also, “If you have a baby, you shouldn’t be smoking in the same room because the baby is inhaling that stuff.” At autopsy, he added, “When you take the baby’s lungs out and look at them, sometimes there’s black soot stuck to them.

Unsecured plastic bags can be attractive to toddlers and pose a suffocation danger if a child puts it over his head. “A kid can go through the trash, they don’t know any better, and they put the clear bag over their head. Just take those bags and go ahead and put them in an outside trashcan.

He encouraged parents to learn to swim, if they don’t already know how, to better protect children around water.  Also, keep a close on small children so they don’t wander off and fall into a pool or other body of water.

Fowler recalled an impatient mother in a store who grabbed her child’s arm and yanked it to hurry him up. “You can easily pull a child’s arm out of its socket,” he warned.

Fowler retired as a forensic investigator with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and has an extensive history with forensic inquiries in catastrophic events, including the 2001 World Trade Center attack, the Southeast Asia tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and the Albany floods of 1994 and 1998. He is also a licensed mortician and embalmer.

Education classes that promote child safety such as Breast-feeding, Infant CPR Safety, and Safe Sitter are held at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. Information on schedules and registration can be found on the hospital’s website.

PHOTO CAPTIONS

Dougherty County Coroner Michael Fowler, Sr., demonstrates for his Kiwanis DoCo audience how a child’s arm can be inadvertently damaged. (Photos by David Shivers)

Coronor Michael Fowler, Sr., left, is thanked by DoCo Kiwanian Harry Futral after the meeting.

The Kiwanis of Dougherty County Foundation scholarship recipients, two of which were awarded to twin sisters, were introduced and honored at the club’s May 19 meeting. Lee County High School graduate Chelsey Shirley was awarded the $2,000 Gregg Neff Scholarship to the University of Georgia and her sister and fellow LCHS graduate Courtney Shirley took home a general $1,000 scholarship and plans to attend Georgia Tech. Andrew May of Leesburg, graduating from Southwest Georgia Home School Association, won the Larry Price Scholarship and will enroll at Darton State College in the fall. Pictured from left are the foundation board’s Larry Price, Chelsey Shirley, Courtney  Shirley, Andrew May, and 2013-14 club president Lance Barnes.

The Kiwanis of Dougherty County Foundation scholarship recipients, two of which were awarded to twin sisters, were introduced and honored at the club’s May 19 meeting. Lee County High School graduate Chelsey Shirley was awarded the $2,000 Gregg Neff Scholarship to the University of Georgia and her sister and fellow LCHS graduate Courtney Shirley took home a general $1,000 scholarship and plans to attend Georgia Tech. Andrew May of Leesburg, graduating from Southwest Georgia Home School Association, won the Larry Price Scholarship and will enroll at Darton State College in the fall. Pictured from left are the foundation board’s Larry Price, Chelsey Shirley, Courtney  Shirley, Andrew May, and 2013-14 club president Lance Barnes.