The 10th annual Help Me Grow National Forum, co-hosted by the Help Me Grow National Center and Help Me Grow Western New York, featured three days of shared learning and inspiration around best practices to collectively enhance the well-being of children to ensure all reach their full potential. More than 400 child advocates attended the event, including members of our Help Me Grow (HMG) affiliates, partners, and funders.
Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD delivered one of the Forum’s keynote addresses. Dr. Mona is credited with exposing how contaminated water in Flint, Michigan doubled blood lead levels in children there. The water crisis started in 2014 after the city switched its supply from Detroit water to the Flint River.
“The story of Flint shines a light on how we value, or don’t value, our children,” stated Dr. Mona. “My work never should have happened. This crisis never should have started. It should have ended when the first mom held up a jug of brown water.”
Since releasing her research in 2015, Dr. Mona has turned the crisis into a call for change not only in Flint, but around the country.
“It is time for all of us to stand up for our kids,” she stated. “Let us work together toward that healthy America for our kids, a place where we stand up for what is right, a place where we all continue to help them grow.”
After her speech, Dr. Mona signed copies of her book, What the Eyes Don’t See.
The Forum featured an opening reception at the new Explore & More Children’s Museum in downtown Buffalo, hosted by Forum sponsor Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation.
The Forum included site visits around the Buffalo area to the John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital, the Jericho Road Community Health Center, and the Family Health Center Daycare, among other locations. It also included more than 30 breakout sessions, including one on messaging led by the Frameworks Institute and another on capturing the return on investment of HMG led by the Center for Health Care Strategies.
HMG National Center Executive Director Kimberly Martini-Carvell delivered the National Center Update, highlighting the collective success of the affiliate network in serving 30 percent more children in 2018 through centralized call centers as compared to the year before.
“The greater the inclusion of Help Me Grow across all efforts, the greater our likelihood of transforming the impact of early childhood systems,” stated Martini-Carvell.
The Forum also included a walk down memory lane in which Joanna Bogin, former director of the HMG National Center, Rebecca Hernandez of HMG Orange County, Barbara Leavitt of HMG Utah, Jane Witowski of HMG South Carolina, and Paul Dworkin, MD, founding director of HMG National Center shared their takeaways from attending every forum.
Angela Santomero, the co-creator of hit children’s television programs such as Blues Clues, Super Why, and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, delivered the Forum’s other keynote address. Santomero shared her thoughts on her successful career and described the research that informs each program. After her speech, Santomero also signed copies of her book, Preschool Clues.
We are enormously grateful to Help Me Grow Western New York for planning and co-hosting this Forum with us.
We look forward to planning the 11th annual Help Me Grow National Forum, to be held in Indianapolis, Indiana in May 2020.
Read additional articles on the Advancing Kids Blog about health promotion here.
Help Me Grow National Center is a program of Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health.
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Categories: Child Development