On the eve of the 25th annual American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Department of Federal Affairs, I am already feeling giddy about the coming 3 days. This will be my first time attending the full 3-day conference dedicated to training up pediatricians who want to learn valuable skills to effectively advocate for child health. The program is jam-packed with interactive workshops, in-depth training sessions and networking opportunities with more than 100 pediatricians from across the country. Day 1 runs from 715am to 7pm, day 2 until 5pm and day 3 until 3pm. The last day (Day 3) culminates with inspirational talks given by 3 senators before we descend on the Hill to meet with our state representatives.
Advocacy and pediatric medicine is a natural fit. Much of what we do as pediatricians is centered around the monitoring of child health and supporting families. Yes, pediatricians go to bat each day for the families they serve. However, having this opportunity to go en masse on the Hill is an exciting and momentous opportunity to really make a difference…and to give voice to the needs of our children.
Over the course of the conference, we will get to hear from pediatricians, members of Congress, White House officials and federal agency leaders. One keynote speaker is Mona Hanna-Attisha, M.D., M.P.H. FAAP, whose was the pediatrician who uncovered the dangerous toxic lead levels in the water supply in Flint, Michigan. We will hear from Dr. Benard Dreyer, President of AAP, who will talk about the devastating effect of poverty on children and what we can do to change that.
This year’s conference will focus on reauthorizing and funding the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act which aims to:
1. ensure children have access to healthy & nutritious school meals; 2. combat poverty and food insecurity with summer feeding programs; 3. maintaining current eligibility requirements for WIC (Women, Infants and Children)
The AAP is a powerhouse when it comes to representing the views of its members and helping shape policy that directly impacts the health and wellbeing of kids and families. However, I do not want to underestimate the power of parents speaking out. Parents can join in by sharing their stories with their state legislators and more importantly, by going to the polls.
I am hopeful on the eve of this conference that all who participate will be energized to do the hard work of advocacy for all our kids and to not give up…no matter what. That we will continue to rally on the countless other issues that impacts child health. We all know the hard work does not stop at the end of this 3 day conference. We must take back what we learn and continue to advocate for children and families. Because the future of our children depends on all of us speaking out.
Get the facts: Child Nutrition Reauthorization (Food Research and Action Center/FRAC)
RELATED: Child Health & Poverty