Having the opportunity to be healthy and well is a fundamental need for children and families everywhere.
Have you ever wanted to change the world? I think many of us had a dream of fixing all the world’s problems and saw this as our mission in life. For me, this is still a dream, but one I am working on daily. As a mother of four healthy children and a family nurse practitioner, I know that having the opportunity to be healthy and well is a fundamental need for children and families everywhere. However, even in our global economy where information, ideas, and goods travel swiftly, health care is not often a priority and access to health care is not available to many. Even in my home state of Virginia, we have almost 400,000 individuals who lack access to health care services.
Health disparities are tied to economic and social disparities, but we have the power to change that. I currently run a free clinic where many of our patients have immigrated as refugees and asylum seekers from other countries. The lack of basic preventive health care services in their countries of origin has contributed to high rates of chronic diseases including diabetes and high blood pressure. Lack of access to dental care means adequate nutrition is challenging because of cavities and missing teeth. Lack of access to immunizations means many mothers have lost children to vaccine-preventable diseases.
This year will be my fourth year attending the Shot@Life Summit in Washington, DC. Each year when I return home, I help my children compose letters to our Senators and Representative to teach them how to advocate for what is right. The power of advocacy for others cannot be underestimated. Each year, they receive letters back from the Congressional offices thanking them for writing and advocating for children everywhere. This year, my oldest daughter, Eliza, will be joining me at the Summit. As a high school junior, she is searching for her place in the world. But, she is adamant that she wants to create a big impact. She plans to bring the training back to her school to get other students and teachers engaged in advocacy. I look forward to mentoring her. In her own words:
I’m very excited to be going to “Shot at Life” with my mother because I wish to learn how I can bring back what I learn and use it to educate my community better. I am eager to meet new people who are also interested in learning about the same things I am. I am also ready to learn how to talk to the officials in power and how to get the needs of my community and other’s communities heard.
As we prepare to head back to DC for this year’s Shot@Life Summit, I am eagerly anticipating the opportunity to reconnect with colleagues from previous years and to meet new Champions. Together, we can give children everywhere a Shot at Life!
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