Fifteen years ago, the world entered a new millennium.
My kids were born on either side of that magical year and when I think about how much their lives will change in the next fifteen years it gives me pause.
Action 2015 is a movement to focus the world on continuing to improve the lives and world around us.
This year two important meetings will be happening with global leaders to review The Millennium Development Goals and replace them with a new set of global goals – the Sustainable Development Goals. This is an opportunity to end all forms of poverty, inequality and tackle environmental destruction.
Huge strides have been made in the last fifteen years, but there is still much work to do.
Last week, my son Dylan was invited to take part in a special Action 2015 kick off event for the United States.
He and 29 other teenagers were brought to Washington, DC by the ONE Campaign and Save the Children to take part in a day of briefings, brainstorming and planning for the future. At the same time, I think some lasting friendships were formed and I can't wait until they can see each other again.
ONE is an organization I've worked with for a number of years. I've always loved that they ask for your voice, not your money. They are an international campaigning and advocacy organization focused on ending extreme poverty and preventable disease around the globe, with a focus on Africa.
In recent years, ONE’s members have played an important role in persuading governments to support effective programs and policies that are making a measurable difference in fighting extreme poverty and disease. Partly as a result of these advocacy efforts, more than 9 million people living in Africa today have access to lifesaving AIDS medication, up from only 50,000 in 2002. Malaria has been cut by 75% in eight African countries since 2000, and 54 million more children across sub-Saharan Africa are now going to primary school compared to 1999.
Save the Children and its newly formed affiliated advocacy organization Save the Children Action Network works to help children in the United States as well as more than 100 other countries. They focus on providing support for health, education, protection and disaster relief.
With nearly 1 in 4 American kids living in poverty, they have been growing their education, health and emergency programs in the United States. Internationally, Save the Children has pioneered a number of programs that are saving lives, working especially to ensure quality maternal and child care - from HIV and AIDS prevention and care programs to robust health and nutrition programs that save children's lives and ensure they grow up healthy.
This diverse group of fourteen, fifteen and sixteen year olds arrived from all over the country. There were even a few International students who currently are attending boarding schools here in the States.
The youth were separated into teams focusing on different issues. Dylan was assigned to the energy poverty team which is an issue I'm particularly interested in.
What was great about his team was that one of the members was a student from Nigeria who could share first hand knowledge of what it is like to live with unreliable power. That first hand exposure opened his eyes in a way I could never do and I know they never talk about in school.
The next day, each of the groups presented their reasons for wanting to see their particular issue be part of the new Sustainable Development Goals at the State Department. They presented them to Raj Shah, Administrator of the US Agency for International Development and Heather Higginbottom, Deputy Secretary of the US Department of State.
Photos by US State Department
Watching these students present the importance of energy, agriculture, girls rights and vaccines was inspiring. Anyone who is worried about this generation has no need to. They are inspired and working hard to make sure the world is one they are excited to work and thrive in.
Later in the day, they'd hear from the CEOs of both Save the Children and ONE and then go for more briefings at The World Bank. They ended the day with a short monument tour and a big family style dinner before saying goodbye.
Action 2015 is a global movement that I'm honored me and Dylan could be part of. Watching the photos come in from around the world of similar kick off events happening in Paris, Tanzania and India reminded us all how important of a day this was.
It was fun for me to only be a chaperone and witness for the day rather than active participant. The day was all about the youth and what they wanted to say. I don't think they are given that chance nearly enough and I can't wait to see how this changed Dylan in the weeks and months to come.
Together, we have made a lot of positive change in the world over the last fifteen years, but there is still a lot of work to do. Only together can we make sure that the next fifteen are as productive as the last.
Demand better and please get educated and involved in Action 2015.
Thank you to ONE and Save the Children for inviting Dylan to be part of this special day. It provided quality father and son time as well as exposing him to the advocacy world that is an important part of my life.