Heritage Night Helps Children Recognize their Role as Global Citizens
Mar 20, 2012

Each year, our local elementary school organizes a Heritage Night to celebrate the global diversity that exists within our school community.  This special event encourages both students and their parents to share their cultural cuisine, traditional dress and honored customs with one another in an engaging and interactive way.
The first year my family and I attended Heritage Night, I knew very little about the cultural diversity of the 500 elementary students who attend my children’s school in northern Virginia, just outside of Washington, DC.  But now, three years later, I feel privileged to know that my children live in such a diverse community with direct ties to dozens of different countries. The fact is that some of my children’s best friends come from Afghanistan, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Korea, India and many other places around the globe.  Even those students who were born in the U.S. still have family ties in other countries and frequently travel overseas to visit.  Many of them have witnessed the differences in living conditions, schooling and health care that occur in these other  countries and they share these experiences at Heritage Night.
Fortunately, as these children forge friendships with their peers, they gain a better understanding and appreciation of what life is like outside of the U.S.  Heritage Night provides an excellent opportunity to educate children about the importance of being global citizens.  That is not to say that we don’t want them to appreciate their citizenship in the United States.  We certainly do.  However, if we can acknowledge the benefits and privileges that we do have, we can also understand how important it is for us to help others.  By cooperating with other nations, both now and in the future, we can work to address the most important and far-reaching international challenges that exist.
That is especially true when it comes to providing children with a shot at a healthy life.  So, in honor of Heritage Night, I called upon the students and parents who were present to join me in advocating for better access to life-saving vaccines by supporting the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign.
I described how vaccine preventable illnesses like measles, pneumonia, rotavirus and polio continue to claim the lives of children all around the world.  I explained how we could save a child’s life every 20 seconds by simply expanding global access to vaccines.  I let them know that vaccines are one of the most cost-effective ways to save lives and improve global health.  In fact a small donation of just $20 can offer a child life-long immunity from four different diseases.   I then asked for everyone, young and old, to help me to raise awareness of this issue and speak out to ensure that we support U.S. led global health programs.  I even invited them to join me in meeting with our elected members of Congress to demonstrate our interest in this important movement.
As I spoke on stage I realized that many parents were nodding their heads in affirmation.  These parents know the challenges that children face in various countries and they understand the threat of disease and the lack of access to vaccines.  After my presentation many families expressed a willingness to help.  They wanted to know how they could reach out to their representative or spread the message among friends.  Some even offered to make monetary donations to the campaign.  One mother, previously from Pakistan, approached me about appearing on her radio show.  Since she broadcasts to the Middle East, she asked if I could talk about the Shot@Life campaign and explain to her listeners how people in this country are actively trying to help improve the health of children all around the world.
Certainly Heritage Night was a huge success.  Not just because of the awareness I was able to generate for Shot@Life, but because Shot@Life was  able to inspire so many young children to consider their role as global citizens.  These children desperately want to find a way to give other children a shot at a healthy life; a life that includes more dancing… more singing…more soccer players …and more giggles with Dad.
Stay tuned for more ways that various volunteer champions around the nation are spreading the message about Shot@Life and getting children involved in the process.  Perhaps you’ll discover that you and your family are called to join us as we set out to save the lives of children everywhere.

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16 responses to “Heritage Night Helps Children Recognize their Role as Global Citizens”

  1. Snoozie says:

    What a wonderful opportunity to teach children how to be global citizens. Your school is fortunate to have you as an a Shot@Life campaign!

  2. cia parker says:

    It should be remembered that the reason so many children in the Third World succumb to vaccine-preventable diseases is that most of them are malnourished, which seriously affects their overall health and immune status. Vaccines are supposed to be a quick fix, but without more global remediation of the conditions which led to the malnourishment, as well as attention to access to pure water and systems to keep sewage out of the water supply, the health of the community will continue to suffer. The reason First World children rarely die of diseases like measles and whooping cough is because most of them are well-nourished and healthy before contracting the disease.

    • Snoozie says:

      You have succumbed to one of the great myths of the anti-vaccine movement. Water treatment and nutrition do not stop the spread of airborne illnesses like measles and whooping cough. Even in developed country, 1 out of 1,000 children dies from measles and newborn babies who contract whooping cough are at great risk for death or lifelong debilitation.
      Other diseases, which have only recently been made rare through vaccination, also are not affected by clean water and nutrition. Rotavirus incidence has been reduced only in the last few years, yet the US has had clean water and ample access to nutrition for far longer.
      The truth is that vaccines are the most effective and penny-wise method of reducing the top killers of children in developing countries. However, to create a false dichotomy between vaccines and nutrition/clean water is simplistic thinking. We can do both.

      • cia parker says:

        I understand how diseases are spread, that’s why I recommend quarantine to protect young babies from pertussis, since the vaccine is not very effective in protecting either them or those around them transmitting it. Clean water is the best way to avoid water-borne diseases like cholera and typhoid. But being well-nourished makes the person much better able to contend with all diseases. Diseases such as measles and whooping cough do not usually cause death in previously healthy, well-nourished people, which most third-world children are not, but it is a much more difficult issue to address.

      • Nathan says:

        Being “well-nourished” does not prevent a six week old from dying from pertussis. The airway can only take so much regardless of how you are fed. The ten infants that died from pertussis in California in 2010 died from pertussis, not malnoursihment. Feeding them better would not have saved their lives, but improved vaccination rates might have.

    • Lawrence says:

      They also have access to modern medical care – doctors, hospitals & advanced treatments for the inevitable side-effects of the diseases (including pneumonia). Not to mention the 95% – 99% reduction in disease incidence due to……….wait for it………..the vaccine program!
      Sure, kids were surviving more often before vaccines (and after the advent of modern medicine), but nothing could prevent those kids from getting the other typical side effects of those diseases, like deafness, blindness & sterility. Now, of course, since we have the vaccines, those kids don’t have to get the diseases or take the risk of the natural side effects.

    • kathy says:

      Cia, why don’t we do it all? While we are working on water treatment plants and sanitation measures and more, why don’t we vaccinate the children, too? The truth is that the richer countries are helping the poorer countries with all these efforts.

  3. Lawrence says:

    @cia – there you go again, fixated on “mortality” figures. Yes, we can all agree that the rate of mortality does go down over time (especially in light of better & more access to doctors, hospitals & health care in general). What doesn’t go down is the incidence of these diseases (and the resulting side-effects, like sterility, blindness, pneumonia, deafness & encephilitis) – at least not until vaccines were introduced.
    Rubella used to be one of the leading causes of birth defects, but it isn’t anymore – why, oh maybe because of vaccinations? A birth defect isn’t death, it is a side-effect of the disease – a person is vaccinated, doesn’t get the disease, which doesn’t lead to an effected pregnancy.
    I’d love to have you try to explain how you would (within encapsulating pregnant women in bubbles) how you would avoid this problem without vaccines….want to take a shot?

  4. Collectivist brainwashing. Guilt-tripping kids into believing they have a responsibility to risk their lives and health for the “greater good”. Reminds me of the episode of “Sid The Science Kid” episode aired on PBS that is literally a 30-minute pro-vaccine propaganda ad aimed at 5-year-olds. You can find it on PBS’s YouTube Channel (SID THE SCIENCE KID | Getting a Shot: You Can Do It! (full episode) | PBS).
    It’s core message is that if you don’t get vaccinated you are doing a disservice to your community and friends. It also suggested that to think critically about vaccines is unscientific. Ten seconds into the episode intro, Sid exclaims “…when you think like a scientist, getting a vaccination is a really good thing!” The same sentence, word for word, is repeated by his teacher about halfway into the episode and again a couple of minutes before it ends. This also implies that all scientists think all vaccines are beneficial and safe, which is a lie. Just two of many lies and innacuracies propogated in the episode.
    They also make it sound as if avoiding exposure to germs and vaccinations are the only ways to stay healthy and prevent disease.
    Surely even you pro-vaxers can admit that promoting the use of pharmaceuticals to children in this manner is inappropriate, irresponsible and downright disturbing! Sid’s grandma (the one administering the vaccines) has a very creepy, psychopathic laugh, too. Feels like the ones they’re really laughing at is us, the public, most of whom never protested, or even blinked an eye, when this aired. 🙁

  5. Lawrence says:

    Tanya – your entire outlook is clouded by your belief in nano-tech chemtrails. As was suggested at RI, you should get some psychiatric help.

  6. LooLoo says:

    Nathan :
    Being “well-nourished” does not prevent a six week old from dying from pertussis. The airway can only take so much regardless of how you are fed. The ten infants that died from pertussis in California in 2010 died from pertussis, not malnoursihment. Feeding them better would not have saved their lives, but improved vaccination rates might have.

    No – having a mother who is healthy and breasfeeding and with her own life time of antibodies does!

  7. […] of other global health advocates.  I’m advocating for change in every way that I can – by hosting Shot@Life events, signing petitions, sending emails to Congress, donating money and educating others about the need […]

  8. […] planned a Shot@Life presentation at their school to raise funds and awareness.  Now, since we’ve since moved to another state, […]

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