Raising a voice for children in crisis

Every day, children in the United States and all over the world are waking up to conflict and crisis – both man-made and natural. Crises take kids away from their homes, their schools, their friends, and have serious, lasting consequences. It impacts their health, behavior, and ability to learn, and steals their sense of security.

Around the globe, nearly one in five children – 420 million kids – were living in conflict zones in 2017, up 30 million from the year before. Children like 12-year-old Sajida*, who fled armed conflict in Myanmar with her family. She was hungry and scared, and witnessed violence. She needed to wait with her family for days at the border to get on a boat to Bangladesh for safety.

{mosads}And there’s no telling when the next tornado, earthquake, flood or hurricane will strike, leaving more children at risk. Children like 7-year-old Georgia, whose coastal North Carolina home was surrounded by floodwaters and destroyed after Hurricane Florence made landfall in September 2018. Her family was displaced nearly 150 miles from their home in the days after the disaster, left to pick up the pieces.

For 100 years, Save the Children has been protecting children in crisis worldwide – founded on one woman’s vision to save suffering children across war-torn Europe after World War I. When a crisis strikes and children are the most vulnerable, Save the Children is always among the first to respond and last to leave, doing whatever it takes for children in need.

Our organizations – Save the Children and Johnson & Johnson – have long collaborated to help meet the immediate and long-term needs of kids, every day and in times of crisis. We have joined forces with Save the Children Action Network to organize the 2019 Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C., from March 31 to April 2, where more than 200 grassroots advocates from 35 states will gather to advocate for kids. They will delve deeper into children’s issues, receive training from leading experts, listen to prominent speakers, and urge members of Congress to protect and invest in kids like Sajida and Georgia, so they can survive and thrive.

Our advocates will also look to spur action by pressing their legislators on Capitol Hill to put kids at the top of their priority list. That means upholding international laws to protect children in crisis and taking practical action to keep them safe and help them recover.

In a fractured political environment, keeping children safe in times of crisis and ready to learn should unite our political leaders. Members of both parties agree that investing in early childhood education helps level the playing field for kids in the U.S., that we must protect children around the world who live in conflict zones, and that supporting foreign aid helps to protect our national security.

In Save the Children’s 100th year of changing children’s lives, the 2019 Advocacy Summit will also recognize and celebrate changemakers for children – individuals who have raised their voices and used their influence to drive change for the world’s most marginalized and disadvantaged children. And in its celebration, the Summit will help pass the torch to new changemakers for children – student and adult advocates who are learning to speak up for the children who need it most.

After all, while kids are about a quarter of our population today, they are 100 percent of our future.

Mark K. Shriver serves as Senior Vice President of U.S. Programs and Advocacy at Save the Children. Peter Fasolo serves as Chief Human Resources Officer and Executive Vice President at Johnson & Johnson. He is on the Board of Trustees of Save the Children.

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