World Moms Blog has a long history of advocating for global vaccinations with the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign, and we are honored to host a post for their #Blogust campaign going on this month! The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness for vaccinations for the children who need them most. Every comment on this post will unlock one donated vaccine for a child. And don’t stop there — every social media share counts, too! You can visit all the posts in the relay at www.blogust.org.
So, tell me now, have you ever experienced any “firsts” growing up that were better than you ever expected or were highly impressionable on who you are today? Many highly anticipated first experiences often come and go forgotten or don’t really mean anything today in retrospect, right? But, here’s a story of one first in my life that made an impact, and I admit to even going back for more! It’s not chocolate, but could have been chocolate, but no, it wasn’t.
Ok, here goes…My age was only 14. I boarded a big yellow school bus to travel to the great big city to my first international summit. And I left with a new perspective on what one person, one child, in fact, could have on the world. This is the story of my first trip to the UN in New York city and how I wound up there as a teenager…
Growing up on the Atlantic coast in New Jersey, USA, it’s common to spend many days on the beautiful sandy shores of my home state and playing in the surf. What was not to love back then?
The pollution, that’s what.
Back in the 1990s, plastic bags, straws, cans, plastic tampon applicators, you name it — all washed up on our beaches. Beaches were closed after hypodermic needles arrived on our shores with other hospital waste. We were swimming in this dangerous mess, and as a species, we were not only endangering our fellow humans, but recklessly damaging a habitat that marine life called home.
The pollution and lack of empathy to preserve our planet drove me nuts!
So, as a teenager I wound up joining a local environmental advocacy group to help raise awareness about the importance to keep our oceans clean and attended their beach clean ups. At a meeting back in 1990 they gave us the news that the UN would be hosting an environmental summit for youth in New York City. I had to go — the UN! The environment!! Yes!!!
I took the information about the youth summit to my high school principal and made the case that our school should be represented. On the day of the summit, my school, Brick Memorial High School, had a delegation en route with our amazing science teacher, Mrs. Kingman.
We were wide-eyed while entering the famous main UN room with seats and labels for delegations from each country. It was a place where decisions were made on human rights, trade, embargos, and we sat down and took to playing with the microphone systems (so hard to resist!). We looked around at all the other students, both, similar and different to us. We didn’t know what to expect from the event, and as it got started, out came speaker after speaker — all kids like us, at the time, from around the world. They spoke of environmental issues affecting the areas they lived in and what was needed or what they were doing to make a difference.
At the UN’s environmental youth summit in the 1990s.
Back in the early 1990s at the UN youth environmental summit, one boy in particular — I remember him being younger than me at the time, maybe 12 years old? maybe younger? — gave a presentation on how the lives of sea turtles in Florida were becoming threatened. He, on his own, was responsible for saving the lives of thousands of babies by protecting their nests and helping the hatchlings out to sea. Our delegation went from wide-eyed to teary eyed. He brought the house down in applause and pride for our fellow youth. That moment engrained in me of how one person, regardless of age, can make an impact on the planet. He was an inspiration.
My first experience at the UN was definitely one that was positive and inspiring — a big realization that we were all players in a world much larger than our own hometowns. And kids could make change, too! They were even already doing it. This mindset is something that inspired me as a kid and will continue to impact how I raise my young daughters today and in the future.
As a part of World Moms Blog, I still jump on the opportunity to head to the UN when we’re invited to report, especially around the UN General Summit & Social Good Summit and for the annual State of the World’s Mother’s Report. We have become our own “United Nations” of moms, here! And additionally, in 2012 when I was asked to be part of a UN Foundation delegation to Uganda with Shot@Life, I was honored to answer the call, too, with the same 14-year old excitement I had when attending the environmental youth summit back in the early 90s. Which brings me back full circle for the purpose of this post…
Elizabeth, a volunteer health worker in Fort Portal, Uganda with World Moms Blog Founder, Jennifer Burden on a Shot@Life trip October 2012.
While in Uganda with Shot@Life, I witnessed children receiving life-saving vaccinations at UNICEF’s Family Health Days around the country. We sat under shady trees and spoke with mothers who wanted the same for their children: good health and an education. We played with lots of children, knowing that because they were being vaccinated against measles, pneumonia, rotavirus and polio (the four deadliest killers of children under 5) that they had a healthier shot at living past their fifth birthday and experiencing more “firsts.”
There is no doubt in my mind that life-saving vaccines are needed in the world.
Every 20 seconds a child dies from a disease that could have been prevented through immunization, which is an inexpensive global health solution to save lives. Healthcare in far to reach or developing areas can be ineffective at keeping a child alive in the event of severe diarrhea or pneumonia. A vaccination can work as a shield to protect a child from even contracting these diseases in the first place.
Today, and all this month, you have the unique opportunity to comment on #Blogust posts and help save lives. Walgreens will donate one vaccine to a child who needs it most in response to your comment on this post, those on all the #Blogust posts this month, as well as, any social media shares.
Please, give more children the chance to live past their 5th birthday, the chance to attend a global youth summit, the chance to single-handedly save marine life, the chance to make a positive impact on animal life and on others, the chance to ride a bus to the UN, the chance to live and be a kid. Join me in being a game changer. Help start the conversation to unlock life-saving immunizations!
During Shot@Life’s Blogust 2014—a month-long blog relay—some of North America’s most beloved online writers, photo and video bloggers and Shot@Life Champions will come together and share stories about Happy and Healthy Firsts. Every time you comment on this post and other Blogust contributions, or share them via social media on this website, Shot@Life and the United Nations Foundation pages, Walgreens will donate one vaccine (up to 60,000). Blogust is one part an overall commitment of Walgreens donating up to $1 million through its “Get a Shot. Give a Shot.” campaign. The campaign will help provide millions of vaccines for children in need around the world.
Sign up here for a daily email so you can quickly and easily comment and share every day during Blogust! For more information, visit shotatlife.org or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by founder, Jennifer Burden, of New Jersey, USA.
Photo credits to the author.
Sarah Hughes has been helping out behind the scenes at World Moms Blog. Read her interview to learn more about our newest contributor in North America! (more…)
Where in the world do you live? And, are you from there?
I live in the USA, in New Jersey to be more precise. I am originally from France but have been living abroad for almost twenty years – mainly in England and now here.
What language(s) do you speak?
I speak French and English. In a previous life, I used to be able to hold a conversation in Spanish, but those days are gone…
When did you first become a mother?
My first child was born ten years ago. I have three children and I feel that I became a new, different mother with each of them. So to answer the question fully, I first became a mother ten years ago, then nine years ago and four years ago.
Are you a stay-at-home mom or do you work?
I stopped working to be with my kids. Now, I write books for elementary school aged children. I don’t know if it qualifies as “working”, because I love it so much it does not feel like work at all.
Why do you blog/write?
There are a few reasons why I blog. Firstly, I want to put a smile on other moms’ faces. My blog is a humorous take on motherhood and I for one know that I always have room for a little humor in my life! Secondly, blogging is a great outlet for me: instead of getting upset because I just told my kids to pick up their coats and they are looking at me like I am from another planet, I just snap a picture of their faces and blog about it. Finally, I am hoping that if people like my blogging style, they will get curious about my books – and love them as well.
How would you say that you are different from other mothers?
I am not. Like any other mom, my most important mission is to take care of my family and I thrive to do the best that I can. I am not perfect, I don’t always get it right, I have my fair share of mistakes, misjudgments and mishaps. But I try my best. Everyday.
What do you view as the challenges of raising a child in today’s world?
When I was a kid, I would make mistakes and my parents would use this as an opportunity to help me learn from it. Nowadays, we have to teach our children to not get it wrong at all – because, in a world where everybody is connected, a wrong statement, a silly act that would have had little consequences in my days, are going to be tweeted, snapped on a picture and posted on the net. They could define our kids for the rest of their lives. That scares me. There is no trial and error for them anymore. That’s a horrible thought. Imagine if our mom abilities were defined by what we do wrong?
How did you find World Moms Blog (WMB)?
I met one of WMB editors at a friend’s house and we connected right away. For all the things that scare me about internet, it also enabled me to get connected to this great group of women.
This interview is an original post to World Moms Blog by Nadege Nicoll, our new USA writer in New Jersey.
Nadege Nicoll was born in France but now lives permanently in New Jersey with her family. She stopped working in the corporate world to raise her three children and multiple pets, thus secretly gathering material for her books. She writes humorous fictions for kids aged 8 to 12. She published her first chapter book, “Living with Grown-Ups: Raising Parents” in March 2013. It is a pretend self-help handbook for children to cope with their parents’ inconsistencies. Her second volume in the series just came out in October 2013. “Living with Grown-Ups: Duties and Responsibilities” has gone one step up in showing parents’ whacky behavior! Although the primary audience for her series is kids, parents are sure to giggle and laugh at their own weird ways. It will be hard for them to tell their kids off with a straight face after they read “Living with Grown-Ups”! Nadege also writes a daily blog for moms who need to smile at every day’s life. She can be found on Twitter, Facebook and her website www.nadegenicoll.com.
Did you know that it was 6 months after Hurricane Katrina until the last child was reunited with her parents in Louisiana? SIX months. Did you also know that just after the fatal shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut a mother was sent to three different locations where she was told her child may be until she found out that she had lost her child in the shootings? And that there are more pet reunification programs set in place than for human children?
According to Kathy Spangler, Vice President in charge of US Programs at Save the Children, this is unacceptable. She stated that many schools or child care facilities in the United States still do not have a reunification plan in place in the case of disaster.
Jennifer Burden of World Moms Blog and her 2-year old daughter sit down with Kathy Spangler, VP of US Operations at Save the Children, at St. Anne’s Child Care Center in Keansburg, NJ, marking 10 months after Hurricane Sandy affected the area.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to sit down with Kathy Spangler in Keansburg, just a few towns over from where I live in New Jersey, USA. The town of Keansburg was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy last October. The storm overall was responsible for over 50 billion USD worth of damage including 650,000 homes and hundreds of child care centers and schools. In town we viewed the finished post-storm repairs needed by a local day care, St. Ann’s, which were made possible by Save the Children.
Judy Abrahamsen, the Director of St. Ann’s Child Care Center explained that the playground had been covered with sludge from the flood waters, and the ceiling had a major leak.
When asked, she responded that the major obstacle in finding aid for the day care’s repairs, initially, was finding the time to pinpoint the grants and take the time to fill out the many forms while still running the business. Save the Children came to the rescue. And Kathy Spangler explained that running a day care is a labor of love, and those in the business are not in it for the windfall money, but because they love working with children. These businesses often don’t have the reserves on hand when natural disaster occurs, yet we need safe spaces for children, especially in times of disaster.
Within 24 hours after Sandy hit, Save the Children had over 130 people on the ground. The journey back to NJ this week was momentous, as they just launched their annual National Report Card in Protecting Children in Disaster, and New Jersey was one of four states to take action and meet the minimum emergency planning standards for children in times of disaster for the first time.
“Save the Children’s disaster report card tracks progress on four critical standards: that states require all child care centers to have 1) an evacuation plan, 2) a family reunification plan, and 3) a plan for children with special needs, and 4) that states require all schools to have disaster plans that account for multiple types of hazards.” However, 28 US states and the District of Columbia fall short.
“Back to school week in New Jersey is a reminder that we must do more to protect the nation’s 68 million children who are separated from their parents on any given weekday.”
Also, on this date, Save the Children launched a new preparedness initiative called “Get Ready, Get Safe” to help families and communities protect children at times of disaster.
On their site parents in the United States can send an electronic letter urging their governor to take action, make a donation and/or sign up to receive action alerts to stay informed. Spangler also encourages parents to stay informed and ask their children’s schools about reunification plans. Whether you are reading this from Newark, NJ or Naples, Italy, we can all kick off child advocacy by asking the simple question: “What is the reunification plan for my child?”
See the full report and take action at www.savethechildren.org/GetReady.
What do you say, parents? Will you find out if your child’s school has a plan set in place?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Founder, Jennifer Burden of New Jersey, USA. Please look out for more on this trip by following Jennifer on twitter @JenniferBurden.
Housework is "For the Birds"
This week we’re talking about housework. MamaMzunga of Kenya asked our writers,
“How do you divide up housework? Does it fall into predictable gender divisions? And, maybe most importantly, do you think it’s divided fairly?”
Check out what some of our World Moms had to say…
Alison Lee of Malaysia writes:
“I’m lucky to have a cleaning crew come once a week to do deep cleaning. The daily chores of just keeping the place neat and tidy, laundry, cooking – well, that’s all me!” (more…)