Sure. Next question.
Well, the next question is, what can we, as a volunteer organization and as individuals, do to achieve that worthy goal?
With the approach of Child Health Day, an annual federal observance day that falls on the first Monday in October, maybe it’s time to ponder that question. And, as always, a good place to start is by looking at what individual Junior Leagues are doing.
Helping kids who need it, of course, has been an essential component of our mission since 19-year-old debutante Mary Harriman founded The Junior League 110 years ago to promote child health, nutrition and literacy among poor immigrants living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
Examples of the implementation of that mission are many, including the Junior League of Brooklyn’s pioneering work 100 years ago on promoting free school lunches in New York City, which lead to the National School Lunch Program in the 1940s.
But what about today?
The Junior League of Dayton’s POWER (Program of Wellness Education and Resources), a children’s advocacy partnership between JLD and The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton, sponsored by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, brings health and safety directly to children and their families at community events using a specially equipped former ambulance called POWER Mobile.
What started as a $1 million gift in 2000 to celebrate the Junior League of Houston’s 75th anniversary is now the SuperKids Mobile Pediatric Clinic, which brings medical services directly to at-risk children in area schools. JLH continues its support of the SuperKids clinic by providing financial support and trained volunteers. Community partners include Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s Hospital, City of Houston, Houston Independent School District and Harris County Hospital District.
The Junior League of Charlotte’s Healthy Child Initiative (HCI) focuses on three key areas of children’s health: physical, dental and mental health. The purpose of the project is to generate awareness of the physical, dental and mental health issues affecting children, remove the stigma associated with some of these problems and teach parents how to spot problems and where they can go for support.
Some individual League members are also making a difference. The Junior League of Halifax’s Aimee Dawson received a 2011 Rising Star award for her work on women and children’s medical issues across Nova Scotia. Leveraging her extensive studies and training in the areas of dentistry and public health, Dr. Dawson is a passionate advocate for new immigrants, providing them with vital dental care and nutritional information through a triage program she runs out of her dentistry practice. She is also deeply involved with a number of local and regional organizations focusing on issues of health and wellness.