Category Archives: Motherhood

#GlobalMoms at Moms+SocialGood in NYC

#GlobalMoms at Moms+SocialGood in NYC

Moms+SocialGood

For the second year in a row I told my husband in advance what I wanted for Mother’s Day, it was the same thing I requested last year. My wish was not for a thing, but an impactful experience. My Mother’s Day gift was to help me coordinate, wrangle, and cover the needs of our four kids while I took two days away from home to attend what I consider the ultimate celebration of mothers.  Organizing my four kids crazy schedules for two days without me is a generous gift I assure you, as some of you other moms might understand. It is no small task.  That said, to be present at the Save The Children’s launch event of the State of The Worlds Mothers Report at the UN on one day, attend the second annual Moms+SocialGood conference the next, while spending quality time with my dear childhood friend in between, was the type of gift that fed my soul.

Posing with fellow Global Team of 200 member Harriet Shugarman Executive Director of ClimateMama

Posing with fellow Global Team of 200 member Harriet Shugarman Executive Director of ClimateMama

The Moms+SocialGood event celebrates the power we all have as mothers to change the world, and highlights the amazing actions extraordinary mothers are taking every day to do so.  It is the culminating event of the Global Mom Relay that has run for the past two months, passing the baton between stories and causes shared daily through social media. Johnson & Johnson generously donated $1 per shared post to support the United Nations’ Every Woman Every Child Initiative. These donations will be used to help improve global maternal and child health, and welfare through the Girl Up initiative, Shot@Life campaign or MAMA (Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action).

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New mom Olivia Wilde, Photo Credit: Stuart Ramson | United Nations Foundation

Held at the Paley Center for Media in New York City the Moms+SocialGood event was hosted by the United Nations Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, BabyCenterTM, The Huffington Post and the 92Y.  The day was filled with celebrities turned activists, like Padma Lakshmi, and new mother Olivia Wilde, and every day women turned heroes like Elizabeth Smart and Hlengiwe Lwandle. Hlengiwe, is a mother living with HIV, who avoided passing the virus on to her baby by taking anti-viral medication during pregnancy. She now mentors other HIV positive mothers with Mothers2Mothers.  All of the speakers and performers of the day use their voices to amplify their message towards meaningful change, and serve as examples of how each of us can make an impact.

Moms+SocialGood  highlights the role of social media, technology and philanthropy as a means for progress.

Padma Lakshmi, Endometriosis Foundation of America Co-Founder Photo Credit: Stuart Ramson | United Nations Foundation

Padma Lakshmi, Endometriosis Foundation of America Co-Founder Photo Credit: Stuart Ramson | United Nations Foundation

One of my favorite moments of the day came at the introduction, when Kathy Kalvin, President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation, and Pat Mitchell President and CEO of The Paley Center for Media took the stage. Pat Mitchell immediately addressed the missing Nigerian school girls. She issued a call to action for social media influencers to keep the focus on the return of those girls, and not to let up until they return safely. Kathy Kalvin also opened by reminding us of the great progress that has been made so far in terms of maternal and child health, but there is much work still to be done.  She reminded us that we have many of the solutions, weather it’s vaccines or bed nets, we know how to solves the problems, we just have to get it done.

Speakers and panelists such as Kathryn Bolles, Director of the Health and Nutrition Global Initiative with Save The Children gave a stirring presentation on the important work they do towards saving moms and kids in crisis.    HRH Princess Sarah Zeid of Jordan joined the President of the American Academy of Pediatrics Dr. Sandra Hassink and Leith Greenslade UN Special Envoy on the MDGs on a panel on investing in mothers and newborns, and improving global health. Amazing panels continued throughout the day and included, moving performances by Saul Paul, and spoken word artist Sarah Kay:

They are all are worth watching, and you can do so via the Livestream videos that were watched globally during the event. Prepare to be inspired.

One of the last speakers of the day was Elizabeth Smart, activist and author who brought the day full circle by offering words of wisdom to the still missing Nigerian schoolgirls. She said that she would give them the same advice her mother gave her when she was rescued from her own abduction experience.

Elizabeth Smart, Photo Credit: Stuart Ramson | United Nations Foundation

Elizabeth Smart, Photo Credit: Stuart Ramson | United Nations Foundation

You can not be devalued by someone else, if you are abused you still have worth. It does not make them less in any way, it can’t destroy them.

Her message to them was hope for their futures.  Her message to society was to shatter that shame in loss of virtue idea that is so destructive. This is a crime that happens everywhere in the world and we should use our voices to make it an ongoing conversation until it ends.

Join the Global Moms Challenge of taking up action, using our voices for positive meaningful impact.

Happy Mothers Day!

Shot@Life Champions w/ President of the American Academy of Pediatrics Dr. Sandra Hassink

Shot@Life Champions w/ President of the American Academy of Pediatrics Dr. Sandra Hassink

This Past Week Was World Immunization Week & Why It Matters #VaccinesWork

This Past Week Was World Immunization Week & Why It Matters #VaccinesWork

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Our pediatrician explained that the reason the Whooping cough outbreak was happening with the 10, 11 & 12 year olds in our town was because it was right around the time those kids were due for their booster shots.  Pertussis, known as the Whooping cough for how it sounds, is highly contagious, and presents as a persisting cough in older children and adults, but it can be deadly to babies. Pregnant women at risk of exposure are advised to be vaccinated against it.  The outbreak in the schools in my town were just another reminder to me this year of how fortunate we are to have access to vaccines that protect our children from such harmful viruses.

Shot@Life Champion

The author advocating on capitol hill in 2013

As a United Nations Foundation Shot@Life Champion I advocate for global vaccines year round, but seeing vaccine preventable diseases popping up so close to home this year reinforces my mission to spread awareness to other moms here and abroad.  Less than an hour from where we live there was also recently a measles outbreak.  In the year 2,000 measles had been declared eliminated from the US, but it’s back, and that is a scary thing for a parent.   Measles is a highly contagious disease, and in other areas of the world it is still one of the leading causes of death in young children.   According to the CDC the past two years have seen the largest measles outbreaks in the US since the year 2,000.  Communities choosing not to vaccinate are opening this country up to a resurgence of diseases that we have previously worked very hard to eliminate as risks for our children.

There are countries where vaccines are not widely available, as they are here, and mothers will walk for days with their children, and wait in long lines to get their kids vaccinated. Those mothers know first hand the deadly risk of not vaccinating their children, they see it every day. In fact every 20 seconds a child dies in this world unnecessarily from a vaccine preventable disease.  We are fortunate enough to have access to vaccines in this country to protect our children from most of these diseases, yet with that security comes complacency and the urgency to vaccinate gets lost on some.  What those parents need to realize is that their choice not to vaccinate their own child, unwittingly puts all other children at risk.   One case of measles can quickly spread to 20 to 40 more cases, and can be deadly to some.

It is not just about keeping our own children healthy; vaccines have proven to be the best investment in global health out there. By preventing disease through vaccinations governments can save billions of dollars on the otherwise repercussions of health care costs.  Healthy communities are more productive, which is good for the economy. A good economy prevents social unrest, which prevents global unrest. In other words, investing in vaccines and global health is in the best interest of us all, no matter where we live. Remember in this ever shrinking world every deadly virus is just one plane ride away.  That is why World Immunization Week matters to us all. My fellow Rhode Island Shot@Life Champion Lisa Davis and I visited Congressman Langevin’s office during #WorldImmunizationWeek to ask him to support global immunization programs.  You can let congress know how important funding global vaccines is to you and your family by contacting them here.

Langevin's office

Advocating at our congressional office in Rhode Island (Polio & measles are in our Congressman’s representative’s hands)

 

 

 

 

 

A Way To #HonorYourMom This Mother’s Day

A Way To #HonorYourMom This Mother’s Day
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Photo of my sister-in-law, my mother, and me.

Mother’s Day  is coming up on May 11th, and I have to admit that it brings a tinge of  bitter-sweetness for me.  My own mother passed away just three months before I first became a mother myself, so of course I think of her, and miss her on that day of the year more than all others.    I say just a tinge though, because the bitter of  missing her is nearly obliterated by the sweet immense joy, chaos, and love my own four children bring to me each day.  Still, for that reason Mother’s Day is an emotional one for me.  As anyone who has lost a parent knows, it doesn’t matter how old you are, or how prepared you believed you were. It is an acutely felt loss, where the umbrella of the generation before you is closed, exposing you to the world in a new unsheltered way.  Granted I was an adult when she passed away, and so I am grateful for the thirty-three years of my life that I had her, I know how fortunate I am to have had that.

Children need their mother; they need their mother’s love and protection, the devotion above all else that only a mother gives.  I know I was blessed to have grown up with that, but I don’t think I knew how much I truly needed her until I gave birth to my own first child. Like most of us I had just lovingly taken for granted that she was there. Quite suddenly when I gave birth to my own daughter, I understood.  As a new mother I felt I needed her more than ever, really it was not that I needed her more, but that I wanted her more than ever.  It is impossible to register what your own mother went through with pregnancy, birthing, nursing, caring, and nurturing, the scope of physical, and emotional outpouring that motherhood demands, until you are in the midst of it yourself.

Photo by Michelle Amarante

With my own little people , Photo by Michelle Amarante

I can no longer express that gratitude to her in person, but I think, and hope that I did well enough when she was still alive. Instead I know that I can honor her by being the best possible mother that I can be to my own children. I try to pass on her legacy of love, and compassion.  That is why I think Samahope’s #HonorYourMom campaign resonates with me so deeply. It gives me the opportunity to honor my own mother while giving another mother the opportunity for her children to grow up under the umbrella of her love by providing a safe birth.  So if you are thinking about ways to #HonorYourMom that would be truly meaningful this Mother’s Day, check out the Samahope #HonorYourMom campaign page and see the beautiful tributes that have already been posted.  Here is how it works:

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1. Pick a photo of you & your Mom – Upload a childhood picture of you and Mom on the #HonorYourMom website, and write what makes her so amazing to you. (You can also add an Instagram video.)
2. Donate in your Mother’s Name – Make a donation to support safe births and life-changing medical treatments for other moms in need.
3. Your mother will get a gift she’ll cherish – A special dedication page is created for your mom, and she’ll get a personalized gift in the mail for Mother’s Day.

 

Those of us fortunate enough to know our mother’s love, and to be able to pass that on to our own children, can’t take those gifts for granted. Too many mothers still die in childbirth; too many children are forced to grow up without their mother.  This can often cause them to end up stuck in the cycle of extreme poverty. No mother should lose their own life-giving birth, and no child should have to grow up without their mother’s love. Samahope hopes to provide 1,000 safe births to mothers in need with the #HonorYourMom campaign. What better way to honor mothers everywhere this Mother’s Day.

 

USAID Launches Global Development Lab

USAID Launches Global Development Lab

As we close in on 2015 the Millennium Development Goals will hit their deadline. USAID has just launched the Global Development Lab, which takes MDG # 8, to  Develop A Global Partnership For Development, into the next set of goals to be reached by 2030. USAID has partnered with 32 companies and organizations to reach the mission:

To discover, test, and scale breakthrough development innovations to solve development challenges faster and cheaper in support of U.S. foreign policy and development goals and to accelerate the transformation of USAID as the world’s premier development agency.-USAID Global Development Lab Mission Statement

I am excited to see the amazing partners involved, including my neighbors Plan, and Nike, as well as some of my other favorites, Save The Children, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Johns Hopkins University (my husband’s an alum). The lab launched Thursday April 3rd,  and I can’t wait to see the breakthroughs a collaboration of this magnitude is sure to bring! Watch the video below to find out what it’s all about.

#March4Nutrition: The Critical Role of Nutrition From Pregnancy To The Age of Two

#March4Nutrition: The Critical Role of Nutrition From Pregnancy To The Age of Two

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Searching for food pantry donations to add to my shopping cart, I realized that as much as some of the the food I’d choose would fill bellies, it might not provide much actual nutrition. I had to switch modes from trying to find pantry items with shelf life, to pantry items with nutritious value.  Hunger and nutrition go hand in hand, but are really two separate elements of the same problem. Nutrition has been found to be especially critical during the period through pre-natal care up to a child’s second birthday when human development is most rapid.  

March is  National Nutrition Month, and the 1,000 Days Partnership organized an online #March4Nutrition to raise awareness about the critical role of nutrition in the 1,000 day window from a woman’s pregnancy to the child’s second birthday.  Healthy mothers have healthy babies, who in turn grow up to be healthy mothers who have healthy babies themselves.  The impact of good nutrition early in life can not be stressed enough. Good nutrition has long reaching positive impact that carries through into the child’s future.  When a children grow up to lead healthy and productive lives, families,  communities, and ultimately countries are positively impacted, and can break the cycle of poverty.

Leading scientists, economists and health experts agree that improving nutrition during the critical 1,000 day window is one of the best investments we can make to achieve lasting progress in global health and development.-www.Thousanddays.org

This months campaign broke down the 1,000 day period into stages, highlighting important aspects at each point.

  • Pre-Pregnancy to Birth: During pregnancy not getting proper nutrition can have a detrimental effect on the healthy growth and development of the child.  This increases the risk of death as  a newborn and make the baby more likely to suffer from cognitive delays or physical defects, and possibly chronic health problems later in life.
  • Infancy, Birth To Six Months: Great emphasis is put on the importance of breastfeeding during this time period, and the need to support mothers to do so. According to The World Health Organization breast milk, which is readily available and affordable, is the ideal food for a newborn. It provides both nutrients and antibodies that can help protect infants from common illnesses.
  • Toddlerhood, Six months To Two Years Old: At this stage continuing breastfeeding if possible, and adding in nutritious foods, plenty of water, and maintaining good hygiene can have life long health benefits.

Malnutrition is a global issue, and the leading cause of death of young children throughout the world. It happens here too, according to my local food bank 1 in 3 customers they serve will be children.  Having learned what I did this month throughout the #March4Nutrition, as I finished my shopping the other day I was sure to add in protein like Peanut butter, tuna fish, and beans. I chose whole grain products and canned fruits, and vegetables. Although I’m aware it is just a drop in the bucket, I believe every child deserves a chance to grow to their full potential. Raising awareness and donating what I can is how I can put my beliefs into action.

 Learn more by following the #March4Nutrition hashtag with @The1,000DaysPartnership if you believe that every child, everywhere, deserves the right nutrition to grow, learn and thrive.

global teamI wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health. Our Motto: Individually we are all powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.