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Posts from the ‘Events’ Category

Addressing Children’s Environmental Health in Alaska

By Pamela K. Miller, Executive Director, Alaska Community Action on Toxics

Children in Alaska and the Circumpolar North experience disproportionate exposures to toxic chemicals that may have long-term negative health consequences, such as neurodevelopmental effects, cancer, birth defects, metabolic disorders, and compromised immune systems. In order to address these health disparities, Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT) organized the 2016 Children’s Environmental Health Summit – the first of its kind in Alaska.

The summit took place on October 5 and 6, 2016, at Alaska Pacific University. Participants included students, health care professionals, Alaska Native leaders, scientists, teachers, policymakers, and children’s health advocates. Fifteen Alaska communities were represented, and the sponsorship program made it possible to provide scholarships to 13 participants from eight different communities (Gambell, Savoonga, Nome, Kivalina, Elim, Diomede, Atqasuk and Brevig Mission).

Kathy Sanchez

Kathy Sanchez MA, Tewa Women United, presents about the impacts of historical trauma.

The first day of the summit consisted of plenary sessions addressing case studies from communities around Alaska, as well as the state of the science on certain health disparities, such as birth defects and childhood cancer. Presentations focusing on critical children’s environmental health concerns from Alaska-based community leaders and health care providers created a balance of on-the-ground perspectives and traditional knowledge and wisdom.

The summit was intended to be a springboard for action rather than an end in itself. So, much of the second day of the summit was devoted to work group discussions in the areas of policy, research, health care, education and outreach, and environment. The work groups resulted in a series of recommendations and actions that will be carried forward following the summit, with the help of the Children’s Environmental Health Task Force.

These are some of the highlights and common themes from each of the work groups:

Health care:

  • Emphasis on ideas to educate and more fully engage health care professionals
  • Change the system of health care to be more responsive to environmental health concerns

Education and outreach:

  • Identified the need to develop educational materials to reduce harmful exposures
  • Prepared a summary of important audiences to reach, key messengers for those particular audiences, existing resources, and new opportunities for outreach – parents, health care providers, students, policy makers, community leaders, media and store managers.
Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee, Citizens for Clean Air, presents some of the working group recommendations.

Environment:

  • Identified the primary areas of concern for children’s exposures, including indoor and school environments, as well as contaminated sites in and around the communities, such as military and industrial sites, solid waste and incineration facilities. Climate warming is a major concern because it is mobilizing contaminants with increasing storm surges and melting of ice.
  • Recommended solutions include community education and trainings, youth activities, and working with local stores to offer healthier alternatives.

Policy:

  • Offered ideas about policy priorities at the local, school board, and state level – including support for the Toxic-Free Children’s Act (HB 53).
  • Emphasized importance of implementing the recommendations of Project TENDR (Targeting Environmental Neuro-Development Risks).
  • Need to strengthen partnerships with health care professionals to be an effective force for change.
  • Recommendations for market shifts toward healthy products, focusing on retail stores that serve rural Alaska.
  • Importance of strong implementation of the new Lautenberg Act, which amends the Toxic Substances Control Act – enforcing the language to protect vulnerable populations.

Research:

  • Develop “rapid response” tool kit for communities to investigate potentially harmful exposures from industrial or military facilities.
  • Longer term: Cultivate support for community-based participatory research – education and engagement of potential research partners.
  • Ways to address health disparities and develop effective interventions.
  • Establish children’s cohort in Alaska to address key health concerns.
  • Investigate connection between climate change and increasing levels of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in the Arctic; chemical mixtures.
Summit participants

Summit participants and task force members

At the end of the conference, 12 participants offered to serve on a task force to implement the recommendations developed by the working groups. This task force consists of a diverse group – from traditional healers and environmental coordinators, to parents, health care professionals and academics – representing the wide base of advocates that is needed to address the complex challenges facing children’s environmental health in Alaska and the Circumpolar North.

Another outcome of the Summit is a report entitled “State of the Science: Children’s Environmental Health in Alaska and the Circumpolar North.” This report summarizes the scientific evidence linking environmental exposures and adverse health outcomes for children in the Arctic, including neurodevelopmental disorders, birth defects, childhood cancers, respiratory conditions, metabolic disorders, and compromised immune systems.

Pamela_K_Miller

The task force currently meets via monthly teleconferences, and is working to prioritize the recommendations and put them into practice. If you are interested in learning more about the task force or joining the team, please email Sama Seguinot-Medina at samrys@akaction.org.

Pamela K. Miller is the executive director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics.

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Save the Date: Birth Parent National Network Virtual Convening

BPNN virtual convention

Time for a Serious Conversation on Early Care and Learning

Join thread on October 5: A Summit on the Economic Impact of Early Care and Learning

SBeglundBy Stephanie Berglund, CEO of thread

You are invited to join thread, Alaska’s child care resource and referral network, for a conversation about how the early care and learning industry strengthens Alaska’s workforce, both today and in the future. Stop by for breakfast or lunch only, or stay all day and hear from national speakers during Investing in Alaska’s Workforce: A Summit on the Economic Impact of Early Care and Learning from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Thursday, October 5, at the Anchorage Marriott Downtown.

How does early care and learning strengthen our workforce? Businesses and organizations rely on child care to meet the needs of their employees each day in order to maintain a quality workforce. At the same time, it lays the human capital foundation for tomorrow’s workforce. And, having a strong workforce is critical to having a strong economy.

Plus, early care and learning invest­ments are a major component of overall education reform and, as economists will tell you, yield a high rate of return. Having a high-quality early learning program instills a strong founda­tion of cognitive and social skills in children, making them more likely to graduate high school, refrain from criminal activities, attend col­lege, contribute to the workforce, and achieve higher earnings.

During breakfast at the summit, you’ll hear from Kyle E. Yasuda, MD, FAAP. Dr. Yasuda is the medical officer for children and families at Public Health Seattle King County and provides pediatric consultation for the county’s initiative, Best Starts for Kids, a prevention and early intervention initiative for children and youth 0 – 24 years of age. He is a clinical professor in general pediatrics at the University of Washington and is serving his second term on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) board of directors and is the chairperson of District VIII, a region consisting of 12 western states – including Alaska – and two provinces. In 2012, U.S. News and World Report named him as a top doctor. Dr. Yasuda has been able to utilize his experiences in primary care practice, academics, government, health policy, advocacy, and nonprofit organizations to actively advocate for the needs of children and families.

The luncheon keynote features Randy Laszewski, an audit partner in KPMG’s National Professional Practice Group in New York. KPMG supports youth and education and sustaining communities through workforce readiness. Through their corporate citizenship programs, KPMG is focused on serving children at every stage of their academic career starting at prekindergarten. Mr. Laszewski, an outspoken early childhood advocate, started his career in Atlanta, Georgia in 1981. For more than 35 years he has provided a full range of audit services to a variety of clients, primarily in the banking industry. Mr. Laszewski currently serves on KPMG’s regional and community banking practice national leadership team.

You will also hear from Nancy Fishman, the deputy director of ReadyNation, an international business membership organization that leverages the experience, influence, and expertise of more than 1,800 business executives to promote public policies and programs that build a stronger workforce and economy. Since 2006, ReadyNation members have made a bottom-line case for effective, bipartisan investments in children as the future workforce that will drive success in the global marketplace. Prior to joining ReadyNation, Ms. Fishman was the state director of the Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission. The Commission, comprised of 75 senior-level business executives across the commonwealth, supports public investment in high-quality early care and education as a workforce and economic development strategy. Previously, Ms. Fishman was the director of Success By 6, the early childhood initiative of the United Way of Carlisle and Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.

She will be presenting the findings of the ReadyNation Report: Social-Emotional Skills in Early Childhood Support Workforce Success. In this national report, they examine how character skills formed in early childhood contribute to building a strong workforce with the necessary social-emotional skills for the 21st century economy.

You will also hear from business and government leaders in Alaska on how they are investing in early childhood locally. Plus, the day will be filled with group activities and open discussion.

Because of what’s at stake for both Alaska children and our society at large, it is time to have a serious conversation about where Alaska is compared to the rest of the country and where it’s going when it comes to investing in early care and learning. Register today to join the conversation on October 5.

Learn more and register for the summit on the thread website or by calling 907.265.3100.

Support provided by:

Gathering Together to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect

Reception Raises Funds, Honors Champion for Kids

At the Alaska Children’s Trust (ACT) fundraising reception in Anchorage Wednesday night, approximately 75 people gathered together in the spirit of a common goal – preventing child abuse and neglect. View our event photos on Facebook.

The event was particularly special as it recognized an individual who has shown extraordinary dedication to preventing child abuse and neglect. During the reception, we honored Heather Harris with our 2017 Southcentral Champion for Kids award. The award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated dedication and commitment in working toward eliminating child abuse and neglect by ensuring that children are living in safe, supportive and nurturing communities.

“It is nearly impossible to talk to Heather for more than a few moments without hearing her clear commitment to children and teens – especially those who are at greater risk of experiencing trauma in their lives. The more complex the human experience, the more she is ready to engage,” reads part of Heather’s award nomination. “Uniquely, however, Heather isn’t just interested in a quick fix, but rather her strategy is first to listen and understand and then to seek collaborative solutions that don’t make life better for just one person but for a system of people.”

Currently the executive director for Big Brothers Big Sisters, Heather has dedicated two decades to our most vulnerable children and youth, engaging with Alaska Youth Advocates, Standing Together Against Rape, Alaskan AIDS Assistance Association, Anchorage Youth Development Coalition and Alaska CARES, among others. She has worked with homeless youth, been an advocate for children who have experienced sexual abuse, and has promoted positive youth development through her leadership on various boards.

This dedication and passion does not stop at the office. “At home, Heather and her husband Josh create safe space in their extended family and in their neighborhood. That space engages the neighborhood kids who instinctively know that Heather and Josh are there for them,” her nomination explains. “Neighborhood kids, children in foster care or incarcerated or abused and neglected are all welcomed by Heather and Josh – there is truly enough love and support to go around.”

“There are few people that I know who can handle seeing so much adversity in the lives of children and still feel hope and optimism about the world,” Heather’s nominator concludes.

Following the award presentation, we had the pleasure of hearing from Zookeeper and Push, members of Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) Alaska, who spoke about how the role of protecting our children is the responsibility of everyone – even unlikely people like bikers. A big thank you to Zookeeper and Push for their time and insights!

We would also like to thank Wells Fargo, a long-standing partner of ACT and supporter of the children of Alaska. Wells Fargo provided a challenge grant of $10,000 – which was matched in full thanks to the generosity of our guests!

Finally, thank you to CIRI for hosting the reception at their lovely headquarters, as well as to our event co-hosts, and all of those in attendance. You can see photos from the event on Facebook.

Together we can prevent child abuse and neglect!

Heather Harris to be Honored at September 13 Reception

If you care about Alaska’s kids and want to work together to prevent child abuse and Heatherneglect, please join us at the Alaska Children’s Trust fundraising reception on Wednesday, September 13 from 5:30 – 7 p.m. at CIRI at 725 E. Fireweed Lane in Anchorage. Please RSVP by September 8 to vlewis@alaskachildrenstrust.org or 907.248.7374.

During the reception, we will honor Heather Harris with our 2017 Southcentral Champion for Kids award. Most recently, Heather became the executive director for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Prior to this new role, she dedicated two decades to our most vulnerable children and youth. Heather has worked with homeless youth, been an advocate for children who have experienced sexual abuse, and has promoted positive youth development through her leadership on various boards. Please join Alaska Children’s Trust on September 13 to thank Heather for her commitment to Alaska’s children and youth.

The suggested donation is $250 for individuals, and $1,000 for corporations, with a challenge grant generously provided by Wells Fargo. Please RSVP by September 8 to vlewis@alaskachildrenstrust.org or 907.248.7374. We hope to see you there!ACT 2017 Anchroage e-invite

Free Screening of “Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope”

Alaska has one of the top five rates of child abuse in the United States. Without treatment, sexual and physical abuse and witnessing domestic violence or neglect can cause serious health and social problems that last into adulthood.

Join Providence Alaska Foundation, Alaska CARES and Alaska Children’s Trust for a free screening of “Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope,” a documentary that chronicles the movement among pediatricians, therapists, educators and communities, who are using cutting-edge neuroscience to disrupt cycles of violence, addiction and disease.

The free screening will take place Thursday, August 10 at 49th State Brewery Heritage Theatre at 717 W. 3rd Ave. in Anchorage. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the screening begins at 6 p.m. A panel discussion will follow.

Please RSVP to 907-212-2554 by August 3.

resilience

You’re Invited: May 9 Evidence-based Policy & Practice Lecture

lectureAs a precursor to the National Citizen Review Panel conference being held in Anchorage this month, Debra Schilling Wolfe will be speaking about Evidence-based Policy and Practice: Role of Research in Child Protection Enterprise. The presentation will be held Tuesday, May 9 at 7 p.m. in Rasmuson Hall on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus.

Schilling Wolfe is the executive director of The Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice and Research at the University of Pennsylvania.

More information can be found in the Debra Schilling Wolfe Public Lecture Announcement flyer and on the Alaska Citizen Review Panel website.

 

“Resilience” DVD for Loan

The movie Resilience, directed by the same team that brought us Paper Tigers, is a view into the discoveries made by researchers as to the dangerous biological effects of abuse and neglect during childhood.

As this new documentary reveals, toxic stress can trigger hormones that wreak havoc on the brain and bodies of children, putting them at a greater risk for disease, homelessness, prison time and, in cases, early death.

However, trauma can be prevented and the long-term effects can be reduced through intervention. Leaders in pediatrics, education and social welfare are using innovative science and field-tested therapies to protect children from the treacherous effects of toxic stress on children. Check out the movie trailer.

The Resilience DVD is available for loan at Alaska Children’s Trust (ACT). If your organization is interested in using this video as a learning tool or hosting a community showing and dialogue, please complete DVD Loan Agreement and send the request to vlewis@alaskachildrenstrust.org.

The DVD and discussion guide are available at no cost and it must be requested four weeks prior to the event. For more information and to request the DVD, go to the ACT website.

Get Out Your “Go Blue Day Best”

Go Blue Day on Friday, April 7

ACT GBD Facebook eventMark your calendar and check your closets … Friday, April 7, is Go Blue Day! Dress or decorate in blue to show your support for safe, happy kids and raise awareness of national Child Abuse Prevention Month.

You are also invited to attend a Go Blue Day rally in your community:

  • Anchorage, 9 a.m., Wells Fargo on Northern Lights
  • Mat-Su Valley, 9 a.m., Wells Fargo in the Target parking lot, 1701 E Parks Highway
  • Juneau, 12 p.m. noon, Capital steps

Then, on Go Blue Day, post photos wearing your “Go Blue Day best” and be sure to tag @AlaskaChildrensTrust!

Let’s come together and show our love for Alaska’s kids. Together we can prevent child abuse and neglect.

Celebrating 20 years of Mush for Kids

Free family event in Fairbanks on Saturday, April 1

MFK4It’s that time of year … time for Mush for Kids! The free family event takes place Saturday, April 1 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Pioneer Park in Fairbanks.

This year’s Mush for Kids will be more special than ever – we’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of one of Fairbanks’ most-loved events!

Join us for:

  • Free dog sled rides for kids 4 – 12
  • Kids’ activities
  • Live entertainment
  • Demonstrations and information booths

Learn more about the history of this fun Fairbanks event on our website. And a very special thank you to our premier sponsor, Pogo Mine.