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The Raising of

America:
DNA is Not Destiny
Community Engagement Exercise
April 29, 2016
The Raising of America DNA is Not Destiny April 29, 2016

Pre-Screening Quiz
1. How many neural connections between brain cells does a baby make every minute in his/her first two
years of life?

A) 50 B) 850 C) 2200 D) 42,000

2. In 1970, the U.S. had the highest high school (and college) graduation rates in the world. What is the
U.S. ranking as of 2014?

A) 1 B) 5 C) 13 D) 23

3. Canada offers parents nine months of paid family leave. In Germany it is 14 months and in Hungary,
more than two years. How many months of paid family leave are U.S. parents guaranteed by federal
law?

A) 0 B) 3 C) 6 D) 12

4. How does the U.S. child poverty rate compare to 35 developed nations? (1 = best; 35 = worst)

A) 3 B) 7 C) 16 D) 34

5. What percentage of new mothers return to work before their infants are three months old?

A) 12% B) 23% C) 40% D) 51%

6. Has the 2014 federal minimum wage (adjusted for inflation) increased, decreased, or remained about
the same since 1968?

A) Remained the same C) Increased by 12%


B) Decreased by 12% D) Decreased by 34%

7. What proportion of jobs in the U.S. pay poverty level wages or less ($24,250 for a family of four in
2015)?

A) One in two C) One in four


B) One in six D) One in eight

8. In 2012, what percentage of youth ages 17-24 were unfit for military service because they couldnt
pass the physical test, the cognitive test, or the criminal record?

A) 27% B) 45% C) 75% D) 87%

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The Raising of America DNA is Not Destiny April 29, 2016

Discussion Prompts
Initial Responses
1. What word or phrase best describes how the film made you feel?

2. What was surprising or stood out to you?

3. In what ways did this film confirm or challenge ideas you held?

Major Themes
1. Here are a few of the interesting themes that I gathered from the film. What are your thoughts about
the researched presented on these? What other themes did you see?
Our surroundings shape us.
There are biological obstacles to success that are produced by pre-existing social conditions.
Intergenerational inequality can be transmitted via maternal disadvantage.
The effects of second-hand stress on the epigenome during early childhood affect adult health
outcomes.
The Wealth-Health Gradient: social adversities alter the epigenome along a continuum
corresponding to social status.

2. In the U.S., the leading causes of death are non-communicable illnesses heart disease, cancer,
stroke, diabetes. When we talk about treatment and prevention plans, we often talk about what
individuals can do, specifically what adult individuals can do. Why are so many of our preventative
measures focused on adult behaviors? How can we shift the conversation to include addressing
inequities in the prenatal and childhood environments, since they have such a huge stake in those
adult outcomes?

3. What would happen if we treated poverty as a disease?

4. The Healthy Drift Hypothesis: does social success make people healthy, or do people achieve social
success because they are healthy?

5. How do you define disease? How do you define prevention? Is stress a risk factor or a disease,
and how should we treat it?

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The Raising of America DNA is Not Destiny April 29, 2016

Takeaways & Next Steps


1. What are three things from the film that you wish everyone in your family or community knew? What
do you think might change if everyone knew them?

2. The film suggested that addressing social inequities is necessary for the success of our society as a
whole. Do you agree or disagree?

3. How do we go about bringing this research to the public consciousness?

Reflections
1. Are there examples you can identify in your own life where your environment has affected your
health?

2. One of the major themes weve talked about in my populations health class is the idea that a lack of
social cohesion is the driving force behind inequality in the U.S. Our culture of American
individualism does not have room for a caring, sharing society with strong social support networks.
Do you think rebuilding community cohesion can positively affect our health? What are examples of
community outreach and engagement projects you have seen in Seattle?