In order to spread the health messages on diet education, cancer screening program and dementia prevention into local community, Professor Hung-Yi Lu from the Department of Communication of the National Chung Cheng University (CCU), in recent years, has been working on the promotion of \\\"the natural helpers\\\" concept in Chiayi City and Chiayi County regions. In search of the genuine human warmth between people from the old days, Professor Lu hopes that the public health education can be thrived locally by this old approach. Based on the concept, these natural helpers can be anyone from the local society. A breakfast shop owner, a hair stylists and a postman, all can be the possible candidates to help publicize the health education. This year, Lu is authorized by the Chiayi City Government once again to help promote its Women’s Cancer Screening Program. Consequently, he will invite the beauticians, hair stylists and the estheticians to serve as advocacy ambassadors to deliver messages for the program. Additionally, Lu has also cast a postman in a flu shot video as a reminder to the public recently. Professor Lu plans to use the most authentic interpersonal connection locally to protect the health and well-being of its own community.
After coming to teach in Chiayi, Professor Lu, an expert on public health, soon started the engagement with local people to initiate several health related activities, in the hope of supporting local residents to live a better life. In the beginning, Lu made contacts with local temple cultural societies to have multiple open-lectures on health issues given at different places. In that particular period of time, not only has he thoroughly explored the 16 townships in Chiayi County, that experience has also inspired him to use a down-to-earth model to generate health-related communication among people.
\\\"In the past, we relied on the media and health officials to do community health promotion, the direct interaction between people was not taken into account as a more efficient factor to make it successful. Since Chiayi County is a place where elderly people are the societal majority, counting on the interpersonal networks to support such community will be likely predicted.\\\" Professor Lu explained that, as 3C technologies, such as computers and mobile phones, seem to be out of reach to the elderly; and though the television broadcasting does have some benefits on publicity, the power in persuading people still has its limit. Both are just not as useful as the direct contact in person, through the relationship between neighbors, in terms of the ability of sending important messages. Therefore, Lu has decided to bring the concept of \\\"the nature helpers\\\" from abroad into Chiayi areas and expects the \\\"ordinary persons\\\" as natural helpers to be more persuasive over health promotion in their own community.
Professor Lu began his journey in search of suitable natural helpers from local community four years ago, for the health issues such as the food fortification and food safety education, cancer screening program for women, the dementia awareness, etc. For all that time he has spent, Lu successfully recruited the breakfast shop owners, beauty professionals, and the postmen to serve as \\\"the amateur advocates\\\" to push forward a series of health promotion activities in various communities.
As to the secret of making the project a success, Professor Lu shared his personal experience and pointed out that, an agreed mutual plan to benefit both parties, is the key to encourage ordinary community members to take part in these collaborations. For example, he once held a community event to cultivate the concept of healthy breakfast in a small town, Dalin, some breakfast shop owners at that time inevitably raised their concerns over the restriction from selling specific meals would affect their business. That kind of worry turned the owners more conservative towards the concept and activity. \\\"In fact, that event was not telling the industry that the existing breakfast choices are not suitable for public consumption, but simply suggesting them to adjust the original nutrition-unbalanced meal combinations to a better standard.\\\" Lu explained that, after the mist of misunderstanding had been removed, with the support from dietitians to help rearrange breakfast menu and, from the research team to help owners do healthy breakfast marketing, the members of the industry then became more willing to join the natural helper project. When members of the industry see children ordering breakfast meals containing a lot of oil and high calories, they can kindly suggest: \\\"These are high in oil and high in calories, shall I give you some vegetables?\\\" By giving out such simple reminder not only has it offered some human warmth, but also provided an opportunity to pass the health messages on to kids.
When it comes to the private health issues for women, taking breast cancer and cervical cancer as two examples, traditional open prevention strategy might not be working as well as it should be, probably due to the lack of trust. Professor Lu revealed: \\\"My sister works as a beautician, she mentioned that female clients would often share their private matters, child upbringing problems, and the relationship status with their parent-in-law, with her, like they were in a \\\"women’s talk\\\" session.\\\" Lu also found out that most women are quite happy to spend time to do their hair which has then made him realized something. \\\"That has given me the idea of training some beauticians and hair stylists to be the natural helpers, and this might be exactly what we need to improve the publicity on health education.\\\" As a result, he began to cooperate with the Chiayi City Beauty Industry, and paid visit to the premises of hair stylists particularly, one after one, door after door. Professor Lu guided all participants through, one to one, about how to pave out the health policy and its relevant information to their patrons, allowing these hair stylists to chat away the free screening programs and related health messages with customers during the services.
Besides, since the postman serves as the most familiar figure to people in rural areas, it has helped Professor Lu come up with another idea to use postmen to push forward dementia prevention scheme. Lu provided training courses to various post-offices in Minhsiung area, and expected them to use the strategy learnt: OBSERVE, CHAT, KEEP and CALL, to keep a closer look at those elderly people with dementia in the community. Recently, Lu cooperated with the Minhsiung District Public Health Center in working with local postmen again, to produce a promotional video to remind members in the community to get vaccinated against the flu.
\\\"In order to rebuild a friendly community, we must have the genuine human warmth in our society rediscovered.\\\" This is why Professor Lu kept travelling around the entire Chiayi region in those years. That is also the driving force behind the searching of the natural helpers. This year, Professor Lu will once again undertake the health campaign for women\\\'s cancer screening program, which is also authorized by local government. And this time, the estheticians will also be invited to join him. He stressed that an esthetician who has more opportunities to make direct contact to woman\\\'s body, can offer a great help especially in breast cancer prevention.