October 2018, Young Children Newsletter.
I am the Young Children District Chair for 2018-19.
This year International President Poly Lat asked that the International Committee of Young Children Priority One (0 to age 5) be expanded to focus on children from 0 to age 8. The Young Children International Committee will focus on the needs of this group with a heavy emphasis still on Young Children Priority One(YCPO) prenatal to age 5.
I have been your District Chair for 7 years, and I am passionate about educating new parents to promote optimal health and brain development in their babies along with preventing trauma in their lives.
I’d like to share my story with you. I was born in 1949 when not much was know about prematurity and how it might affect a person throughout his/her life. I was born at 24 weeks weighing 1 1/2 lbs and was placed in a incubator for two months. Back then babies were given oxygen and many were given an overdoses(not knowing any better) of oxygen which was harmful. Many babies’ eyes were damaged and blindness resulted. I was fortunate as I only lost sight in one eye, and the other was damaged but I could see. I have been plagued by vision issues throughout my life, but now serious problems are catching up with me.
Once grown to an adult my Mom apologized to me because she did not take good care of herself while pregnant, and she said there was much stress in her life at that time which resulted in my premature birth. I am living proof of what can happen if women don’t take care of themselves while pregnant. Kiwanians have an opportunity to educate the public about healthy life styles, good nutrition and other ways to prevent premature births.
Once the child is born we can further educate new parents about ways to promote optimal brain development in their babies and to prevent pediatric trauma which hinders or destroys healthy brain development.
To quote Dr. Wil Blechman, former Kiwanis International President and Chairperson of our International Committee:
The mission of Our Committee is “.... educating our members about the importance of enhancing the likelihood of success for children 0-8 and especially the prenatal period to age 5. Happily, Kiwanis has always had a soft spot for kids, but it is rather interesting that many Kiwanians, and indeed many citizens, only think of the years from kindergarten on up when looking into possible service projects. Note I said many, not all. However, with what we now know from research on child development and especially brain development, it is more important than ever to get everyone to recognize that adults truly begin their lives before being born, and that their adult lives are powerfully affected by their experiences while in utero and the years that follow, especially through age two --- the time when the basic structure of the brain is being created.”
So how can Kiwanians work towards accomplishing these goals? Every month I write a Young Children Newsletter which I share with all Lt. Governors. I ask them to forward the Newsletter to Club Secretaries who are asked to share the information with members via email or by printed copy at their next Kiwanis meeting. So I hope you receive these newsletters which contain educational information on pertinent topics and project ideas aimed at age prenatal to age 8. These newsletters are also posted on the New England District of Kiwanis website homepage (www.newenglandkiwanis.org) in case you don’t receive them.
I hope you will read the newsletters, and be encouraged to do one new project this year aimed to improve the lives of young children in addition to what you are already doing. And, of course, if you start a new project, I hope you will repeat it each year as there are new moms and new babies that can benefit each new year.
I am YOUR District Chair. Please feel free to contact me with question. Or if you would like me to visit your Club/Division with Project ideas, please contact me. And please share with me anyYoung Children projects you are doing this year.
Finally, I hope to see you at Fall Conference and other District happenings. I have a Young Children table in the exhibit hall with lots of educational materials and project ideas which I hope you will share with your Kiwanis Club. I look forward to meeting each of you in the near future!
Young Children District Chair
New England and Bermuda District