Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Reflections of a Returning Shot@Life Champion

Reflections of a Returning Champion
How Much Lime Green Can I Put in this Post?

See that picture up there? That's me one year ago at the first Shot@Life Summit in Washington D.C. That is a look of a happy woman who doesn't yet know what she's getting into. I'd just been selected by the UN Foundation as one of the first grassroots champions for Shot@Life. They flew me out to DC to learn more about global vaccines and go through media, advocacy, and fundraising training. One year later, I'm glad to be returning as a "Mentor Champion," a volunteer selected to help with training of champions in an area of my experience (in my case: advocacy).

Let's take a look at some of the wonderful things being a Shot@Life champion has brought into my life that I am so, so grateful for:

1. Education
I knew a fair amount about child survival in developing nations already because of my work with RESULTS - an anti-poverty advocacy group - but Shot@Life gave me a deep dive into the world of vaccines. The clarity of this campaign's simple message is refreshing and inspiring: Vaccines are the safest way to save the most lives from horrendous childhood disease. $20 protects a child from polio, measles, rotavirus, and pneumococcal virus. Together, we can save a child every 20 seconds. 

That's it in a nutshell, but the stories and insights provided to us by bloggers around the country - not to mention these nifty easy-to-understand infographics - prepared me to speak anytime, anyplace about the global good of saving children with four specific immunizations.

 2. Friends
Many women I met at that first summit are kindred spirits I continue to work with, cheer for, and grow in respect for every day. We're connected through a facebook group where we share successes and frustrations. Maybe someone had a great media interview. Or met with her representative for the first time. Or is feeling overwhelmed by the child mortality problem...or getting their kids to school on time. We've been there for each other all year long and it's like I can't remember NOT knowing them. Honestly, I haven't felt this way about a group of people since college.

 3. Lobby meetings
Remember, I'm a RESULTS volunteer, so I'm always trying to get the attention of my members of Congress about poverty issues. It always helps to get a meeting - especially a face-to-face with a representative - if I have something new worth saying. The launch of this campaign was very exciting and gave me a great excuse to drop in on everyone all over again!

4. Oscar Winning Moments Sometimes in life you have to make your own Oscar moments. We chose Academy Awards night (well, afternoon) to do a family-friendly Oscar party fundraiser. Jody Garland donated her time and equipment to take pictures of us and our kids in our glamorous gowns and costume jewelry. For a donation to Shot@Life, guests got copies of these professional pics. So fun!
 5. Cupcakes
'Nuff said, yeah?

6. Community building/Youth shaping
I connected with girl scout groups and helped them learn about the need for global vaccines while earning service badges. Here are a couple of Girl Scouts on the left helping me with an info table at a farmer's market. This enterprising girl in the Shot@Life green shirt really took the message to heart. When their leader had them start running their own meetings, this girl started a tradition of "Public Service Announcements" in her own troop where they would take a moment and share something good they could do in the world. Her first cause to present was, of course, Shot@Life.

7. Uganda
Last, but not least, there was the trip of a lifetime to Uganda! I'm grateful my first trip was: traveling with friends/colleagues, visiting programs I advocate for, meeting families directly and with translators, meeting with UNICEF staff, and meeting with the UN. I got to see schools and houses of worship where vaccines and other health services were provided conveniently to children and families who need them the most. I have been working very hard to bring my first-hand stories to media, students, and members of Congress!

Wow! What a year. I know my fellow class of champions has been making news this past year in all their own ways. I hope the incoming champions make the most of their experience, too. 2013 is already shaping up for me as my daughters and I raise money for Shot@Life by training for a half-marathon (for me), a 5K (for my 9 yr old), and a 400m dash (for my 7 yr old) at the Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon Weekend on Feb 23-24. I welcome you to join us in saving kids lives by making a donation today and getting a new year with Shot@Life off to a great start!