Tag Archives: Vaccines

What Is A Twitter Takeover ?

What Is A Twitter Takeover ?

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Sounds pretty dramatic, right?!? A Twitter Takeover is kind of dramatic, but it’s not about illegal hacking. A Twitter Takeover is when a brand or organization hands over their twitter account to a new voice to run temporarily. It may be a celebrity, spokesperson, or in our case for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization this week…. a bunch of moms…I mean social media influencers!  Twitter takeovers have become a great way for brands and organizations to increase engagement and reach audience populations they might not already have access to. They nurture a feeling of authenticity, and bring in fresh voices to followers.

That is where our group of writers, digital media producers, travelers, moms, and advocates come in. We deeply believe that all children should have global access to lifesaving vaccines.  I know you are still wondering WHY GAVI would let us takeover the @vaccines twitter account. Collectively between us we have nearly 44,000 followers comprised, in part, of many other moms who also care about child health, but who may not already follow the @vaccines twitter handle. This is an important demographic to reach on the topic of global vaccines because as long as a virus is a threat anywhere in the world, it is a threat to all of us.  We have the vaccines to prevent some of the most threatening diseases, but they only work if they are delivered. Our Twitter Takeover team of UN Foundation Shot@Life Champion Leaders is made up of myself, Nicolette Springer, Nicole Morgan, and Ilina Ewen. We were asked by GAVI to takeover the account to tweet from the Social Good Summit and UNGA, which are both taking place in NYC this week.  Our goal is to help spread the message that Vaccines Work. No mother should lose her child due to a vaccine preventable disease when we have the life saving vaccines available. All children deserve a shot at life. Read the rest of this entry

Shaping The Narrative Of Global Health

Shaping The Narrative Of Global Health

I was thrilled to be asked to speak at this years United Nations Foundation Shot@Life Summit to a room of almost 200 champions from all over the country. I’ll confess that having never spoken to a group that large I was a nervous wreck, but I love a challenge, and it helps to speak from the heart on an issue you are emotionally invested in, and so this is what I said:

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“Every story begins and ends with a woman, a mother, a grandmother, a girl, a child, . Every story is a birth”….- Ishmael Beah Author of Long Way Gone & Radiance of Tomorrow & UNICEF Advocate

As a storyteller, and a mother to my four children that quote by Ishmael Beah really touches me. Because before I was a mother, I was of course a daughter. And the story of why I am here speaking to you today begins with her. my mother was born in 1922 , she was 45 when I was born, and a polio survivor. She stood all of 5’2” at a tilt, since Polio had left her with one leg slightly shorter than the other.

Eventually I would come to tower over her at 5’9″, and now that I am a mother myself I muse at how odd it must have been to have ended up with a daughter so much taller. While I was still a daughter, and before I became a mother, I was a traveler. I still think about the mothers who approached me as a westerner in my early twenties and held out their babies to me asking for medicine or a cure. If those babies survived they would be in their mid-twenties now, and surely not all did survive. Knowing what I know now I wish I could go back in time with a bag of medical supplies and give them whatever they needed, because the pleading looks in those mother’s eyes haunt me to this day.

I never was a mother and a daughter at the same time. My mother passed away four months before my own first child was born. Though she had told me stories about having Polio as a child it never really resonated with me in the way it did once I became a mother myself. How terrified my grandmother must have been of losing her. And to be honest I hadn’t really reflected on those mothers I met as backpacker in my 20’s until I became a mother myself, and then I remembered that helpless feeling I was left with when I did not know what to do to help them. I was so grateful to join shot@life as a champion and finally have the opportunity to DO SOMETHING. To honor my mother’s legacy as a Polio Survivor, and to help the mothers that I know are out there in developing countries desperate for proper healthcare, for lifesaving vaccines for their children that every mother should have access to.

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As excited as I was to join Shot@Life I have to confess that had I known that I was going to be visiting my government representatives on capitol hill that first year I attended the summit, I may never have joined. I would have been too afraid. Yet, the next thing I knew I was hoofing it around capitol hill (in the wrong shoes…I might add…( definitely take the comfortable shoe recommendation seriously ) advocating for Shot@life with my congressmen and Senators. I brought the messaging back to my community and realized how much work is still to be done just in terms of  awareness alone. There is so much misinformation and lack of awareness out there on vaccines. In this country we take it for granted that our babies will not die from a simple case of diarrhea, but mothers in countries where they lack access to vaccines have lost, or know someone who has lost a baby to a vaccine preventable disease. Every 20 seconds a baby dies from a vaccine preventable disease, mothers will walk for days to get vaccines when they can for their children. I realized there is a huge need to get the message out to the public.

vaccinesSo what can YOU do to make sure every child gets a fair Shot@life no matter where they are born?

  1. Become a United Nations Foundation Shot@Life Champion, as a Champion here are a few ways to reach out to make an impact in your community that can ripple around the globe:
  2. Contact or visit your local representatives and tell them that you care about their support of global health and global vaccines, and ask them to support these programs as well.
  3.  Hold a party to get the word out, if you don’t want to do it in your home there are so many companies that offer fun alternatives. In my community stores like Alex & Ani,  Pinkberry, and Flatbread Pizza will help you have a party on site to fundraise for your event.
  4. Speak to local clubs, a local new neighbors club, Rotary or General Federation of Women’s Clubs
  5. Hold an event at your child’s school or set up a booth during an international fair, take the opportunity to work the importance of vaccines into the broader issue of global awareness.
  6. Use social media as a messaging tool for good with this social toolkit.Write op-eds, letters to the editor, blog posts, or articles for your local paper or magazine. I had a profile run in my local town Magazine for example.

For World Pneumonia Day last November I was paired up with Dr Mkope from Tanzania and at the National Press Club in Washington, DC we did over 20 radio and TV interviews! It was a great feeling knowing that the message of the importance of vaccines, with real life proof of efficacy from Dr. Mkope, was being broadcast so far and wide. At shot@life we say “a virus is just a plane ride away”, and in a perfect example of this ever shrinking world, it turned out that Dr. Mkope is the pediatrician of the one friend I know in Tanzania.

This year might be the last year that Polio is a threat to any child in the world, with only 9 cases on record, and still known to exist in only two countries in the world, the World Health Organization predicts that, with vaccines, it will be eradicated soon.

Every story is a birth, for my mother who survived Polio, for the mothers I met in central Africa with the pleading eyes, for my children and my children’s children, what I have learned as a Shot@Life Champion is that we have the opportunity to shape this narrative on global health, together lets write this story to end with no child dying unnecessarily from a vaccine preventable disease.

#Advocate2Vaccinate #VaccinesWork

 

#Blogust 2015 & Words That Matter

#Blogust 2015 & Words That Matter

photo for quoteRecently the African continent celebrated its first year with no new Polio cases on record. That milestone signifies that the world is getting closer to the once impossible to imagine goal, of eradicating Polio from the world entirely, for good. Africa’s accomplishment means that vaccine programs have worked, and now the global community is down to two remaining Polio-endemic countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan. We are getting close, but our work is not done. As long as Polio is out there in this ever shrinking world, it remains a threat to us all. Meanwhile, 1.5 million children still die unnecessarily every year from vaccine preventable diseases.

The United Nations Foundation Shot@life campaign is a movement to protect children worldwide by providing life-saving vaccines where they are needed most.

During Shot@Life’s Blogust 2015—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 inspirational quotes for their children. Every time you comment on this post and other Blogust contributions, or take action using the social media on this website, Shot@Life and the United Nations Foundation pages, one vaccine will be donated to a child around the world (up to 50,000).

As a reader and a writer, I am a natural logophile, a lover of words. Joining the Blogust’15 team this year I am thrilled that we are using words as our currency to help provide vaccines for those children around the world who need them most. As we each share our meaningful words and quotes I hope you become inspired. Inspired to action, to make a difference in the world. 

Never underestimate the power of words. Words have the ability to heal. They can pierce. Powerful worlds can start a revolution. A quote can become a mantra that guides you forward, or helps you to make sense of your world.

 Just think of those moments in your life when a passing remark crushed you, or another moment perhaps, when one made you soar.

I think of the mantras that play in my head to this day, simple phrases that my parents planted that have grown into beliefs. 

Pictured here with my brother and parents...the authors of my subconscious.

Pictured here with my brother and parents…the authors of my subconscious.

 

“There is no such thing as “can’t.”

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“Everybody needs somebody to love.”

All these seemingly innocuous mid-conversation sentences stuck for some reason above all the others, I can’t tell you why. I can only tell you that I know that some of my words spoken to my own children will stick in the same way, and I pray that I get it right. That the positive messages stick, and grow.

Words are powerful. This month during Blogust lets use our words to give all children the chance to grow up and pass on their own words of wisdom. Immunization is one of the most cost-effective ways to save the lives of children in developing countries. Shot@Life aims to decrease vaccine-preventable childhood deaths around the world, and to give every child a shot at a healthy life.

During @ShotAtLife’s #Blogust, every time you comment, like or share a post, 1 vaccine will be donated to a child around the world (up to 50,000). Take action now. It is that simple to make an impact, one word, one click, one share.

Every 20 seconds one child dies from a vaccine preventable disease. Other ways that you can help are to:

Take action to support Global Vaccine funding by telling congress you care

Become a part of the movement to prevent unnecessary childhood deaths by becoming a Shot@Life Champion.

Donate to save lives. It only takes $1.00 to vaccinate a child against a debilitating disease.

Tools For Empowering Global Women; Book Review of 100 Under $100

Tools For Empowering Global Women; Book Review of 100 Under $100

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“Women make up half our entire population. When they’re held back, half the world’s potential goes unrealized. But when women and girls are empowered, we’re not just better by half. The world is twice as good.”

-Melinda Gates #BetterByHalf campaign

As we reach the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals and world leaders set forth a new set of global goals leading up to 2030, it has become increasingly clear that women and girls need to be at the center of development initiatives. Why women and girls? As Betsy Teutsch points out in her new book 100 under $100 One Hundred Tools for Empowering Global Women It has to do with what is referred to as The Girl Effect.  This refers to the fact that when you educate girls they tend to marry later, in turn give birth later, and are able to better contribute to the economy. Research has also shown that when women have economic power, more of those resources are invested back into her family than when men do. Women are also more likely to educate their own daughters. This means the next generation will also contribute more effectively to the nation’s economy. Read the rest of this entry

#Blogust Highlights First Times & This Is Mine

#Blogust Highlights First Times & This Is Mine

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This is my first time.

My first time letting go.

My oldest child goes off to school in another state next week, and I have to admit, I’m having a tough time with that. The thought that for the first time in her life she will not be living under our roof. For the first time I have to trust her to the outside world. For the first time I won’t be right there for her for whatever she needs, and let’s face it, I can’t check on her whenever I need for my own piece of mind.

I know I’ve said this before at other moments of child rearing, but have decided that this, this stage of parenthood must be the most difficult. This realization that I’ve brought her up, and come to this point where I have to to send her out into the world to continue to grow.  I know that is how it should be. I know she will be fine. It’s me I’m worried about!  Knowing in my heart they grow up, while in my mind I’m clinging to her feet, dragging behind her screaming, “noooooooooo, my baby  I can’t let you go!”

I’ve heard the description of having your hear walking around outside of your body before, and now I fully understand the feeling. My heart will be four states away.  At the same time I am feeling excited for her, and grateful that she has grown into the healthy, confident young woman that she has.

Through my work with the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life Campaign we highlight the fact that where children are born should not impact their chance to grow up healthy and happy.  Eventually they should all have the opportunity to leave their parents home off on their own pursuits.

Vaccines save lives, it’s as simple as that. All children around the world deserve a Shot@Life, they deserve to celebrate first birthdays, first days at school, losing their first tooth, and yes eventually, their first year away from home.

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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.