Somehow in the past two weeks between her appearances on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and Ellen, the release of her new movie Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (which the kids and I LOVED), and another movie, Men, Women & Children that came out this week, Jennifer Garner squeezed an interview with ME into her busy schedule! She did all that during and after dealing with sick kids at home, which makes her way more kick ass to me now, with all she does, than her character Sydney ever was on Alias! She has three little kids, and as a mom to my own four kids, I can fully appreciates the challenges of the incredible juggling act that must be.
First I’ll answer the first thing everyone has asked me when they found out I interviewed Jennifer Garner, I know you are itching to know too, YES, I found her every bit as great as you would expect. And YES I want her to be my friend, and I think you would too if you had the chance to speak with her.
Stacey Hoffer Weckstein of EvolvingStacey and I recently had the opportunity to interview Jennifer Garner about her role with Save The Children, her advocacy efforts towards early childhood education, and the #FindTheWords campaign. Upon re-reading the transcription of our interview as I wrote this, I became even more enchanted by her. In conversation I hadn’t noted the earnest “Gosh”,“Oh my gosh” or “Oh boy” that she had begun some of her answers with, it wasn’t until I read them in the transcript today that I noted that charming aspect of the interview. Both Stacey and I had worked with Save The children on the #FindTheWords campaign in the 30 words, 30 days blogger challenge that represented the 30 million fewer words kids will learn in homes without early education, and the facts are powerful.
- 1 in 4 children in the United States lives in poverty, many with not a single book in their home.
- There is no one reading to these kids, and they will not have access to a pre-school education.
- By age three they will have heard an average of 30 million less words than their peers, which puts them at a great disadvantage before they even reach school.
- Ultimately these kids are 70% more likely to be arrested for violent crimes.
- Lack of early education makes them 40% more likely to become a teen parent.
- They are 25% more likely to drop out of school.
“The injustice of it hits me at my very core.” Said Jennifer Garner “So I just feel this drive to help be a part of making it be better.” “….the more you are let into people’s homes, and into people’s lives, and into people’s struggles, the more driven you become to do what you can to help them.”
Many of us have a cause that really touches us deeply, usually based on some experience or exposure to the issue at some point in our lives. For Jennifer Garner who grew up in rural West Virginia her heart goes out to kids growing up in poverty in rural America. When I asked her what inspired her involvement with Save The Children she replied…. “I suddenly found myself in a place, professionally, where organizations might find my voice to some use. And ……there’s so many amazing organizations and so many—there’s so much need in the world and I really didn’t know where to put my energy. And I had to keep going back and kind of quieting my mind after I would see people who are doing such incredible things, and I would think, ‘What is authentic to me? What is something that I can speak to and that I believe in, and what am I not seeing as much of?’ And for me it was really kids growing up in rural America. And where I grew up, in West Virginia, I was very lucky to be in a house with a dad who had a couple of graduate degrees and mom who was in school to get a graduate degree, and who were professionals. But my mom had come from poverty during the Dust Bowl depression in Oklahoma, and my dad had really, really struggled to make his way up and to go to college; I think they were both the only ones in their families to go to college. And for them, education had made this enormous difference in their lives. And I just felt like, ‘Who was helping these kids that I was growing up with in West Virginia? And who would’ve been around—who should’ve been around—to help my parents?”
..”there needs to be a seismic shift in the way our public policy addresses kids before five, since we don’t even deal with children until they enter kindergarten, really, in most states.”
Studies have shown that kids who grow up in poverty without early education are already an average of a year and a half behind their peers by the time they get into school. As an Artist Ambassador to Save The Children Jennifer has traveled to homes and schools where their early childhood education programs are run to see first hand the impact they are making on the young children involved. She described the experience to us; “What I love is ,….in our home visitation program, we go in and we sit with these moms and they’ll tell you “nobody ever read me a book” and “I hated school” …… these moms are isolated, they are tired, they don’t have mom friends or computers to read what you guys are writing about or to be encouraged.”….” So when Save The Children rolls up and goes once a week to see them, they bring them books, they bring light, they bring life. And the main thing that I love to see is they bring encouragement for these moms.”
As Jennifer said “Motherhood is the great equalizer, right? ….As soon as you have a baby, we all have the same love, and hopes and dreams, and fears and vulnerabilities…”. Every mother wants to see her child succeed, and every child deserves a chance to do so. Early education, getting into these kids lives during this critical developmental time period, is a great place to start.