2012 was big year for me. It’s when my youngest child started preschool. It’s when I first became involved with the Shot@Life campaign as part of #Blogust. It’s also when I traveled to Uganda with Shot@Life to see, firsthand, the work they do by providing life-saving vaccines to children who desperately need them. Among those experiences, I count one other that impacts me still – attending the Social Good Summit.
The Social Good Summit is a two-day event held in New York City and broadcast the world over. The presentations and discussions revolve around how technology and social media are helping to solve problems around the planet. It’s held during UN Week and brings in some of the brightest minds and biggest stars to showcase exactly how the world is changing through ideas, technology, and human connection.
Leading up to the Summit I wondered what, exactly, it would be like for someone like me. I had been a mom for over 13 years and didn’t know what my place would be among scientists, scholars, and students discussing the evolution of social issues. I wondered what I could actually do to help contribute to global issues once I was back home and into the routine of my regularly scheduled life.
What I learned has impacted me, and by extension my family, in several ways. For example, in conversations with my children about appropriate use of social media, I’ve been able to tell them about how earthquake victims in Haiti used Twitter to contact the Red Cross for help, and how text messages are a tool for healthcare in some places in the world. My four daughters and my son know who Pakistani teen education activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai is, what she stands for, and how receiving an education changes not just a life but the course of history. My children know what #GivingTuesday is and plan ahead, looking for ways to serve and give back so they can participate.
My children are now participants in global conversations. They are the future, and the wheels in their heads are turning as their awareness of how they fit into a much bigger picture grows.
What I learned at the Social Good Summit that year (and in the years since, as I’ve streamed it online) has given me personal commitment to do more, and to continue to be more aware of what is going on in the world. It has provided seeds of knowledge I’ve been able to plant in my children’s minds as I tell them stories—not fairy tales, but real stories of real people doing heroic and kind and brave things to make this world a better place. As they hear these stories I see them taking initiative in their own realms as they organize food drives and volunteer to help neighbors or friends at school.
As actor and activist Forest Whitaker said at the Social Good Summit back in 2012, discussing child justice work: “Love grows. It’s a commodity that expands once you start to use it.” Last year, performer and philanthropist Alicia Keys proclaimed, “We are here.” If I can get my kids to understand those big ideas and then act on them through seeing what is going on in the world, my contribution to this planet’s future can be significant.
Take Action Challenge
Don’t delay, make plans TODAY to attend the Social Good Summit in New York City on September 27-28, 2015. It’s so worth it! Tickets are available now. You’ll be inspired and impressed by the messages you’ll hear. This year’s theme is #2030NOW focused on ideas around New Goals, New Power and New Technology. The big question is, “What type of world do I want to live in by the year 2030?” When moms are given that kind of question, they know the answers are found in what our next generation does. The knowledge we mothers have will help get them there.
Photos: UN Foundation / Stuart Ramson