Category Archives: Children

World Vision Now Puts Child Sponsorship Into the Rightful Hands of Children

World Vision USA has embarked on a new twist on child sponsorship that is absolutely delightful. Traditionally how child sponsorship works is sponsors pick photos of children who live in poverty and need assistance. But now children get to choose their sponsors giving them a sense of empowerment and becoming a full part of the process.

World Vision USA started their Chosen program in Kenya and documented it in the beautiful video below. In fact, you can be a part of Chosen by signing up to be a child sponsor (it starts at $39 per month) and then uploading your photo. You can also be chosen by a child. Then your monthly donation is put into community programs for children. Sign up by October 6.

I enjoy seeing World Vision’s work in the Philippines when I traveled with them in 2016 and also love the new innovative they are now working with children. In fact, they are in Ecuador with their Chosen program. It’s awesome to watch.

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January Is Birth Defects Prevention Month: Are Local Health Departments Ready?

Q&A with NACCHO Board Member Sandra Elizabeth Ford, MD, MPH
Director of the DeKalb County Board of Health

A baby is born with a birth defect in the United States every 4.5 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Birth defects are defined as any structural changes present at birth that affect how the body looks, works, or both, and they can vary from mild to severe. While not all birth defects can be prevented, there are concrete steps pregnant mothers can take to increase the chances of giving birth to a healthy baby.  In honor of National Birth Defects Prevention Month, the CDC released a resource guide providing pregnant moms tips for preventing birth defects.

In addition to guidance provided by CDC, many local public health departments provide prenatal care for expectant moms. Below is Q&A with National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) Board Member Dr. Sandra Elizabeth Ford, Director of the DeKalb County Board of Health in Georgia.  NACCHO represents the nation’s 3,000 local health departments.

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Can Fitbit Help Kids Gain Steps and Lose Weight?

Around 17 percent of American children from age 2 to 19 are classed as “obese”. That’s a level that has remained fairly steady over the last decade. And it’s growing.

Obesity is measured in terms of Body Mass Index (BMI) – a measure that can be used to compare children in terms of their weight. BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of their height in meters. For children and teens, BMI is so age- and gender-specific that it is referred to as BMI-for-age. BMI levels among children and teens need to be expressed relative to other children of the same age and gender. Every child is different and that makes it difficult to generalize on something like this.

heart-rate-monitoring-device-1903997_1280Overweight is defined as a BMI at or above the 85th percentile and below the 95th percentile for children and teens of the same age and gender. Obesity is defined as a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for children and teens of the same age and gender.

To give an illustration, a 10-year-old boy of average height (56 inches) who weighs 102 pounds would have a BMI of 22.9 kg/m2. He would be considered obese because this calculation puts him in the 95th percentile for BMI-for-age. His BMI is greater than the BMI of 95% of 10-year-old boys in his “reference population”.

Continue reading Can Fitbit Help Kids Gain Steps and Lose Weight?

Why Save the Children Is Uniquely Suited to Help Kids After Hurricane Harvey

I have worked with Save the Children in some capacity for the past five years whether seeing their work around the world, blogging on pro-bono campaigns or partnering as a consultant. That’s why I can personally vouch for the amazing work they do for the most vulnerable children who have experienced psychological trauma from all-too-routine natural and man-made disasters. Many people think Save the Children solely provides aid during global catastrophes that happen in far away places, but they also provide substantial aid here in the United States. Save the Children was instrumental during hurricanes Katrina and Sandy as well as the tornadoes that continually tear through the mid-west. They also were there for both the Lousiana and eastern North Carolina floods last year. I am confident in their ability to focus on not only the physical but the mental well-being of the smallest among us.

Take a moment to fill out an ICE (in case of emergency) card where you can include contact information for all family members even those who are in other states! This is important when lines are down. You never know when a natural disaster will hit, so make sure to do it now!

In a climate where some national organizations are coming under increased scrutiny about their ability to adequately help families with simple supplies, supply lines, and logistics during stateside national disasters, Save the Children continues to be a rock for children and their families. I wasn’t asked to write this post, but feel strongly it’s necessary to urge as many people to donate to Save the Children during Harvey relief efforts. Thus far Save the Children has brought truckloads of infant and toddler supplies to four shelters in Austin while strengthening its work to support children in area shelters.

Save the Children Harvey emergency response
Save the Children staff member Coleen Vivori plays with Brianna*, 4, and Khloe*, 5, at Save the Children’s Child-Friendly Space located at Kazen Middle School in San Antonio, Texas, where hundreds of displaced families, including many with infants and toddlers, are seeking refuge in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Save the Children’s emergency response team is on the ground in Texas, working to meet children and families’ immediate needs as Hurricane Harvey blasts inland from the Texas coastline. (PRNewsfoto/Save the Children)

Officials anticipate that more than 30,000 Texas residents will need shelter including in three mega shelters located in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Save the Children has teams on the ground, and at the request of the City of Austin, is en route to the city’s four major shelters with essential items including portable cribs and sheets, strollers, baby wash basins, hygiene kits and lotion packs.

Save the Children is also opening child-friendly spaces in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.

“Child-Friendly Spaces are a hallmark of Save the Children’s emergency response, and are essential in helping children cope and build resiliency during disasters,” said Jeanne-Aimee De Marrais, the organization’s senior director of U.S. emergencies. “We are working hard to make sure that children and families in Texas are getting the supplies and care they need.”

“We are evaluating the immediate needs of families who are being rescued in Houston, and those who are still stranded,” added De Marrais. “We know the longer-term needs will be in Houston and we’re determined to get child care and early education programs up and running as quickly as possible.”

To support Save the Children’s response efforts around Hurricane Harvey, please go to www.SavetheChildren.org or text Hurricane to 20222 to donate $25 to the Hurricane Harvey Children’s Relief Fund. (A $25 donation will be added to your mobile bill. Messaging & Data Rates May Apply. Terms:  www.hmgf.org/t. Privacy Policy: www.savethechildren.org/privacy.)

Finnish Fashion Designer Creates Maternity Wear for 12-Year-Olds to Highlight Worldwide Child Pregnancy

Child pregnancy is a worldwide blight. Seven million girls in developing countries under the age of 18 become pregnant every year meaning that they have to grow up too soon, put an end to their education, look for adequate healthcare that they can afford, earn money somehow, possibly marry a much older suitor, and figure out a life for her and her child. 11 percent of all worldwide births are by girls between the ages of 15 – 19 according to the World Health Organization. These pregnancies cause far too many maternal and newborn deaths across the globe.

To bring awareness to the number of girls who become pregnant each year in lower-and-middle-income countries, Finnish fashion designer Paola Suhonen created a collection of six, brightly-hued maternity dresses with childhood motifs for 12-year-olds. If this sounds a bit sensational, you’re correct. Suhonen’s maternity collection is solely designed to show the world that too many young girls become pregnant each year because they often don’t have other life options but to become pregnant and are often not taught proper sexual and reproductive health education. It’s a sad state of affairs to be sure, but it happens every day. In fact, 5,500 girls under the age of 15 become pregnant daily.

Working in collaboration with Plan Finland as an issue raising endeavor, Suhonen traveled to Zambia with renown photographer Meeri Koutaniemi to recreate what would be a regular fashion shoot, but instead featured an expectant child mother, Fridah, as her primary model.

“I designed a collection that I wish is not needed and that I don’t want to sell,” said Suhonen. ” This campaign brings together two very important issues – children’s and women’s rights. I hope that people will wake up to the circumstances in which millions of girls live in developing countries.”

Plan Finland has created a thorough FAQ page to answer any questions about the ethics of this campaign. You can donate here.