by Cindy Allen
We’re entering 2020 and a brand-new decade! The New Year is always an exciting time to renew focus on issues and projects that are dear to us. Ushering in a new decade is an even greater opportunity to pledge to set goals and timelines on getting these priorities accomplished.
A great benefit of being a Rotarian is to see the positive impact of Rotary in making our communities and our world a better place to live, and to be an active participant in making good things happen. There is no bigger impact one can make than to invest in the health, education and well-being of children. On that front, Rotary has been a leader!
On the international stage, Rotary is known for many worthy programs that help children grow up in a better world. Through the decades, Rotary has prioritized making high-quality health care available to vulnerable mothers and children so they can live longer and grow stronger.
In some of the most stricken areas of the world. Rotary provides education, immunizations, birth kits and mobile health clinics. Women are taught how to prevent mother-to-infant HIV transmission, how to breast feed and how to protect themselves and their children from disease.
Think about what Rotary’s Polio Plus program has meant in eradicating from the earth one of the most dreaded childhood diseases. Rotary has also launched a pilot program to save the lives of mothers and children during home birth deliveries in Nigeria.
Locally, Oklahoma City Rotary Club 29 has dedicated many projects to helping children, including supporting Teachers of the Month, Rotary Dictionary Distribution and Rotary Youth Leadership Awards. Our One-Pledge projects have benefited children throughout the years, including this year’s project to provide nurses in Oklahoma City Public Schools with audiometers and other equipment to ensure students’ health and hearing.
As we begin this new decade, I’m hopeful that investment in children will continue to be a priority of Club 29 and other Oklahoma Rotary clubs. Oklahoma is, unfortunately, ranked way down on the list of states in raising healthy and resilient children.
According to the latest Kids Count Data Book, 21 percent of children in Oklahoma are growing up in poverty. Seventy-one percent of fourth graders are not proficient in reading. Thirty-six percent of children are growing up without two parents in the household, and there were 346 child or teen deaths in Oklahoma in 2017.
Improving the condition of Oklahoma’s children should be a priority for all of us because every positive outcome we want in the state of Oklahoma begins with raising healthy and resilient children. Unfortunately, poverty continues to be the biggest challenge for Oklahoma’s children. Families who live in poverty face many obstacles to being able to provide safe, stable and nurturing environments for their children.
Investment in positive childhoods is non-partisan and benefits all of us. A coalition of organizations and businesses in Oklahoma, called 25 by 25, is working to raise Oklahoma’s position in key early childhood metrics from the bottom 25 to the top 25 states by 2025. Think of how much that kind of improvement will impact our state in overall health, economic sustainability and workforce stability!
Rotary Club 29 will continue to be a leader in making Oklahoma City a better place for children to live, learn, play and grow. I’m proud of the work we’ve done, and I look forward to the many opportunities the 20s will provide Rotary to be of service to children.