This summer I had the opportunity to intern at Save the Children Action Network (SCAN). The organization’s mission is to mobilize Americans to take action on two key breakthroughs:
- Bring attention to expanding access to high quality early childhood education domestically.
- End preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths internationally.
SCAN’s efforts have made me more passionate to help people everyday. Before my internship, I did not realize, “By age 5, a child’s brain is already 90% developed, yet 2 out of 5 American children are not enrolled in preschool.” When I heard this alarming statistic it instantly reminded me of my summer last year, when I was teaching in New Orleans. There are children in the United States that do not have access to early childhood education programs. I was in a classroom filled with students in second and third grade that can barely read or on a kindergarten reading level. When children come to school they are ready to lean, but when students do not have the basic skills that you learn in preschool or head start programs they are left behind. If children have access to head-start and high quality early childhood education programs then every child would be ready to succeed not in kindergarten but also for the rest of their education.
During my first few weeks, I have worked with people that have made progress in states, counties, and districts to give every child access to early childhood education. Before, I had no idea that advocacy could do so much. Advocacy helps to implement change through policy that will have an impact on the economy and politics. SCAN’s staff presents bills to Congress that focus on early childhood education. Recently, the U.S Senate prioritized the Every Child Achieves Act that focuses on improving early childhood education quality and access by investing in kids. My passion to advocate change for children around the world is strengthened when my mentor, Brendan Daly, continues to keep me aware of the alarming statics and key facts about both of SCAN’s initiatives. Especially, when I sit in on meetings with staff that are trying to convince government officials that the issues that children around the world go through are worth their time and attention. It makes me upset enough that I have to share this knowledge with my family, friends, and peers to advocate for a change.
My eyes are now open to the issues that affect children from the day they are born. My eyes are also open to the power of advocacy and politics.
I knew very little about communications prior to my internship with SCAN. I have learned how communications can be used to create a change and bring awareness to social issues. My day normally consists of searching articles on Google News about Save the Children Action Network initiatives: Early Childhood Education (ECE) and Maternal Newborn and Child Survival (MNCS). I also brainstorm innovative ways to spread the message about both of the campaigns on our website, search for quotes or statistics to include on the twitter page, research reporters from large news outlets to contact, and transcribe videos from the speeches made by political leaders who support the SCAN campaigns. I also had the opportunity to write a contract for the SCAN Young Leaders Program that will be launched by fall 2015 to target high school and college students to participate in and serve as advocates for the organization in their own communities.
This fellowship has allowed me to discover new ideas and explore my role in making change happen. I never knew there was an organization right near me that was so deeply involved and committed to making sure that children are a priority. I have re-discovered my own city, explored what I would like my future career to be like, and explored what it really means to be an advocate. As I continue through my fellowship, my hope is that I am able to move ahead and take a step closer to create a social change.