Continental Societies, Inc. is committed to providing children in our schools and communities the best quality programming in the areas of Health, Education, Employment, Recreation, and Arts & Humanities. Within this programmatic thrust, five programs are special focus national initiatives: Literacy Development, Asthma Awareness, Obesity Prevention, Career Exploration and Support and Oral Health. Each chapter is encouraged to implement service programs in these areas that provide information and benefit to the community. Recognizing the importance of the four national initiatives, more than 90% of the Continental Chapters provide service programs supporting one or more of the national initiatives.
In contemporary thinking, literacy is described as the basic ability to read and write. Many formal definitions exist including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s definition as the "ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, compute and use printed and written materials associated with varying contexts.” Continental Societies, Inc. supports this definition, and believes that in addition to reading and writing, literacy affords young people the ability to solve problems at levels of proficiency necessary for them to function successfully on the job, in the family and in society. In this regard, chapters design programs such as book drives, read-ins, spelling bees, poetry contests, etc. to enhance the literacy skills of our children and youth.
The Environmental Protection Agency reported in October 2010 that the rates of asthma – a serious, life-threatening respiratory disease affecting over 20 million Americans – have risen sharply over the past thirty years, particularly among children ages 5 to 14. Continental Societies, Inc. responds to these startling statistics by developing programs to educate and inform the communities it serves on the seriousness of this nationwide epidemic. Partnering with local agencies and initiatives such as Zap Asthma that combine the strengths of scientific research with community action, Continental Societies, Inc. has been able to effectively facilitate asthma awareness service programs. These programs have included school assemblies, health fairs, interactive recognition of asthma triggers and others with the specific goal of reducing the occurrence of asthma among our children and youth.
Childhood obesity is of particular importance to the Continental Societies, Inc. because the organization recognizes it as a silent killer of children and youth. The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Adolescent and School Health reports immediate and long-term health impacts of childhood obesity to include cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure, greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem. Working in tangent with First Lady Michelle Obama’s May 2010 plan to reduce childhood obesity from 20% to 5% by 2030, the Continental Societies, Inc. facilitates programs such as community gardens, nutrition education, and physical fitness exercises at local schools and community centers.
Career Exploration and Support:
In response to the staggering unemployment rates that exist in inner cities throughout the nation, the Continentals provide support for students in exploring and preparing for careers. Career exploration activities are provided for elementary and lower middle school students. On the upper level for middle school and high school students, career preparation and training activities are provided. These activities include developing resumes, preparing for interviews, interviewing techniques, researching and defining job opportunities and trends, internships and career planning. Students also enjoy site visits to various industries and job shadowing experiences.
Understanding the impact that the lack of adequate oral health can negatively impact a child's life Continental Societies, Inc. partnered with Colgate's Bright Smiles Bright Futures dental van program to increase oral health awareness. Bright Smiles, Bright Futures is a leader in oral care and children's oral care improvement around the world. Continental Societies Inc., works hand and hand with Colgate as they reached over 120 million children in the United States with positive dental messages.