Anderson Cooper at 141st APHA Annual Meeting

At APHA’s 141st Annual Meeting in Boston, CNN’s Anderson Cooper chronicled a business meeting organized by APHA’s Maternal and Child Health Section featuring Jeremy Richman and Jennifer Hensel. Richman’s and Hensel’s daughter, Avielle, was one of 26 victims in the Newtown school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Photo by All Things Anderson.

At APHA’s 141st Annual Meeting in Boston, CNN’s Anderson Cooper show chronicled the advocacy work of  Jeremy Richman and Jennifer Hensel, whose daughter was one of 26 victims in the Newtown school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

In a Nov. 3 business meeting organized by APHA’s Maternal and Child Health Section, Richman and Hensel shared their story and discussed “The Avielle Foundation,” an organization named after their daughter to prevent violence through science and education.

Their mission: change the way society views and treats “mental illness” — a term both believe is more appropriately described as “brain health.”

“There’s an underlying pathology in our brain,” Hensel said. “There are genes, there are biochemical patterns we can see.”

Added Richman: “If you can actually identify the cause — something you can touch, feel, measure —then you can fix it and that’s not as scary.”

As described on the foundation’s website, Richman and Hensel have two priorities:

  • breakthrough research in brain health, bridging behavioral and biochemical sciences; and
  • community-based initiatives and programs which strengthen connectivity, empathy and understanding.

The meeting, “Keeping Children & Families Safe Through Gun Violence Prevention: MCH Advocacy, Policy, and Practice,” was organized by Maternal and Child Health Section members Lesley A. Cottrell, PhD; Kimberly Arcoleo, PhD, MPH; and Lianne Fuino Estefan, PhD, MPH.

View the entire CNN series, “Honoring the children, Newtown, One Year Later,” at Allthingsandersoncooper.com.