Shot@Life Keeps On Birthday Bashing!

Here is the text from The Maker Mom’s blog interview of…ME!

Written by Kim Moldofsky

Friday, April 26, 2013

Shot@Life UN Immunization Campaign, Geography and Emily White: STEM Girl Friday

When I was at the Blissdom Conference I agreed to help out with a post for Shot@Life’s birthday and World Immunization Week. I was thrilled when they paired me with a Shot@Life Champion, Emily White, who is also a mom, a geographer, and this week’s STEM Girl Friday.
How long have you been involved with Shot@Life and how did you get involved?
I was introduced to Shot@Life at the General Federation of Women’s Clubs [GFWC] Conference in Charlotte, NC in the summer of 2012. I brought information home to my local GFWC Club, and we have some fundraiser and awareness events in the works for later on this year. I became a Shot@Life Champion after attending the Champion Summit in Washington, D.C. I will become the State President of GFWC South Dakota in another year or so, and am so impressed with what Shot@Life does and how they market themselves that I knew I would want to choose this program to deliver life-saving vaccines where they are needed most as my major focus during my presidency.

You are a geographer! Tell me a bit more about that. I AM a geographer! I love what I do – I am the Operations Manager for the South Dakota Geographic Alliance. My job is to promote geo-literacy in K-12 classrooms. I believe that my work is important. Being a Geography Educator is probably one of the most important jobs out there, though most Americans would disagree. Or not realize that the field of Geography actually encompasses more than memorizing ‘states and capitals’.
Geography is a skill that allows a person to develop critical thinking and solid decision making skills. All a person has to do to understand this is watch the evening news. Why are particular countries at war? Are these wars strictly about culture and religion? How does the location of natural resources factor in? Where are water resources located? Other people depend on the outcome of these decisions. This is why a geographic background is so important.
During Geography Awareness Week (last November) I went to 1st and 2nd grade classrooms and taught them about global interdependence by using a pencil as an example of how we are all connected across the globe. A pencil has five parts, each manufactured in a different country. I used Google Earth to “fly” the classes to countries where the pieces are made. Then we talked about how the decisions we make here in the United States affect other people in the world. Educated decisions are better decisions. A solid background in geography makes educated decision makers.
This is the same message that I promote when talking to people about Shot@Life – we are all connected across the globe. In order for a disease to be eradicated, we all have to work together for the benefit of all because diseases don’t respect borders and boundaries. A disease eradicated in one country is a disease eradicated for all countries.

What would a worldwide polio map look like now and how would it look different than, say, a 1950 map? Going back to the early 1900s, polio was spreading across the globe, especially in cities, and especially during summer months. Scientists were working on a vaccination for polio and finally came up with an effective vaccine in the 1950s. Those countries that effectively used the vaccine saw a dramatic drop in polio cases since then, including the United States, where polio has been eradicated since 1979. In 2013 endemic polio cases exist in three countries: Afganistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. So a map of polio now would only highlight three countries, whereas a map from the 1950s would highlight many countries, all over the globe. I’m not sure what the exact number would be, but it would be a very colorful map. In contrast, the more recent map would kind of boring to look at. Let’s eradicate polio in those last three countries and get rid of the polio map all together!

Using your knowledge of maps, terrain and shifting boundaries what are biggest barriers to childhood immunizations in developing nations? When you look at a map of Afghanistan, the first thing you may note is that this country has a lot of mountains and deserts, and not much transportation infrastructure in place. Combine these factors with political unrest and fighting taking place in various regions, and you have a huge barrier to country-wide health care, let alone distributing childhood vaccinations equally.
While not all developing countries are in the same situation as Afghanistan, many of these countries don’t have the country-wide health care infrastructure in place to make addressing issues like immunization easy. The children who are least likely to receive immunizations are going to be rural kids whose families simply don’t have access to health care, clean water, sanitation, proper nutrition, and so on. Immunizations are only one issue of many for people in developing countries.
What has been your proudest moment working with the Shot@Life campaign?
My proudest moment working with Shot@Life was when a group of us went to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. and shared the Shot@Life message with our Congresspeople. I was the only Shot@Life Champion from South Dakota, so I got paired up with some fantastic Champions from New Jersey. We got to share our message as both advocates and moms with the people who are most in-touch with the pulse of the Nation. As the Shot@Life campaign continues to grow, I like knowing that I was one of the earliest supporters and that I helped plant the seeds of the future for healthy children around the globe.
Thank you, Emily! Would you like to become a Champion? Learn more about becoming a Shot@Life Champion here.

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