What We Are Doing

Race for Survival kicks off with 25,000 signatures delivered to White House 23 Apr 2015

Save the Children US and our new affiliated advocacy organization Save the Children Action Network held our 13th annual Advocacy Summit on April 21-22 in Washington, D.C. to call on elected leaders to invest in children from the start. This year, we asked policymakers to focus on giving children a strong start in life by supporting early childhood education programs in the US and by investing in key maternal, newborn and child health programs that save the lives of newborns and children around the world.

Youth advocates made up a key part of the Summit, with a group of more than 40 high school and college students from across the United States traveling to Washington to participate in the summit.  Youth attendees also participated in Race for Survival, Save the Children's biggest annual child mobilisation event for the EVERY ONE campaign.  Students began the race prior to arriving in Washington by collecting signatures for a petition we launched on January 15, 2015 in conjunction with the launch of the global action/2015 movement designed to increase awareness about the creation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The two-day Advocacy Summit began with a morning Youth Summit geared specifically for youth advocates.  This opening session featured inspiring speakers - all young adults themselves - as well as workshops designed to help students prepare to meet with their members of Congress by bolstering their knowledge of early education and maternal and newborn health policies. More than 150 participants from across the nation visited our nation's capital where they heard from powerful change-leaders, engaged in dynamic workshops, and spoke with members of Congress and their staffs.  Participants heard from prominent speakers such as former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, Libby Doggett, deputy assistant secretary of Education for policy and early learning, Chuck Todd, host of NBC's Meet the Press, Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post, and Abby Huntsman of MSNBC.  Senators Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Representatives Kay Granger (R-Tex.) and Lloyd Doggett (D-Tex.) received Congressional Champion Awards.

As part of their participation in Race for Survival, youth participants collected the signatures on a petition to President Barack Obama urging him to make maternal and child survival a central focus of the new Sustainable Development Goals to be decided at the UN General Assembly in September.  Youth participants brought their signed petitions to Washington, first gathering together at the Lincoln Memorial to compile more than 25,000 signed petitions before presenting them to the White House.  The students presented the petitions to Tina Tchen, who serves as Assistant to President Barack Obama; Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama; and Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls.

 

In addition to delivering the petitions to the White House, youth participants also encouraged their congresspeople to prioritize investments in children.  Similar to the petition language, the students asked the Senate to reintroduce a bill - known as the Accelerating Action on Maternal and Child Health Act - to support ending preventable maternal and child deaths.  Save the Children and Save the Children Action Network are hopeful this bill be reintroduced this year.