JOHNSON’S and Save the Children are Bettering the Lives of Children

As many of you know, I’m part of JOHNSON’S Care Council as a digital influencer. Throughout the years I have loved being part of this amazing Council because I have had the opportunity to get sneak peeks at products coming out, meet some of the brilliant scientists and amazing team behind JOHNSON’S and also… most important to me, be able to have a special extra hand in partnering with JOHNSON’S on some of the amazing partnerships they have with organizations on doing good in the world. JOHNSON’S is a brand that my mother used on me and that I have used on my own children for the last 11 years. It’s an iconic brand. It’s a brand I love, I trust and I respect. I stand behind JOHNSON’S products… but it’s also seeing the incredible and life-changing work that they’re doing to better the lives of babies, children and families that makes me proud to be united with them, too.

I had the opportunity last week to travel to Nashville, TN to see up close and personal how JOHNSON’S and Save the Children are working together in different communities. JOHNSON’S has been a longstanding partner of Save the Children, a global organization dedicated to early childhood development giving children a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm with recognized leaders, quality programs and a proven model that invests in childhood every day, in times of crisis and for the future. For me, seeing JOHNSON’S and Save the Children come together is something that is just incredible.

Every day, millions of babies may miss opportunities critical to growth and development due to poverty, lack of early stimulation, poor health/nutrition, and lack of early education. Believe it or not, by age three, 85% of a baby’s brain is already developed and the brain forms critical connections that set the foundation for future healthy development. If the opportunity to have an impact on a child’s development during this time is missed, it becomes very difficult to correct later on. For Among the 15 million children living in poverty in America, most enter kindergarten unready to succeed. Four-year-olds from low-income families are often 18 months developmentally behind their peers. And as these children progress through school, they risk falling so far behind that they can never catch up.

These stats are just mind-boggling to me. I grew up the daughter of 2 teachers, so education was always the most important thing to my parents as I was growing up. From the time my mother found out she was pregnant with me, she was reading to her belly. Books were a nighttime routine in our house growing up. My mom and dad would sit with me and my siblings every single night as we did out homework. As I was older, they would set designated reading times and study times. It made me a good student. It made me want to excel in school. The foundation for me was there from the earliest of early starts.

It’s not like that for everyone.

Enter JOHNSON’S and Save the Children.

Through its programs, Save the Children provides support to 300,000 U.S children in need, and JOHNSON’S® shares in this mission to make a positive impact on baby’s cognitive, social, and emotional development. JOHNSON’S and Save the Children are uniting to develop a global toolkit that will integrate early stimulation and learning into community-based programs in low resource settings.

While in Nashville, TN I had the chance to visit 2 families that live in Perry County that are working with Save the Children in their Early Steps to School Success Program. Now… in Perry County – 35.1% of children live in poverty (2013) and the median household income is $32,845 (2009-2013). The 2 families that I got to meet through these home visits were both very open, real and honest with me and the team about their need for being part of this program and why they want better for their children. Home visits provide meaningful and engaging interactions between Save the Children’s early childhood development program staff ECC and the parents. I was just in awe of how Kim (the Early Childhood Coordinator) was so patient and kind and loving to each family.

It’s not always easy and I just loved how passionate she was about making sure everything was going well and that everything was in place for their next check in.

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What I loved about being part of this home visit was seeing the children light up when Kim brought out books, toys and activities for the kids to do, as well as the parents.

Kim with Scarlett, reading a book.

It was very encouraging to be there and hear these moms and dads say that they want better for their children.

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These parents were never read to as children and (many of them) had very difficult childhoods. To see that they want more for their children – education, development and success for their futures was inspiring. It was amazing seeing the parents get on the floor with their kids and engage in the activities or read the books with the kids.

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This is the key… this is helping their children and setting their lives up for success. It’s pretty incredible what good happens when you sit and read a book with your child… even as young as when they’re infants.

As someone who saw how effective Save the Children’s early childhood programs are here in the U.S., I’m excited to learn that JOHNSON’S® is working with Save the Children to create a global toolkit that will support the integration of evidence-based early childhood work into a variety of development programs around the world. The holistic toolkit will incorporate the latest brain research focused on child development to support early brain development and offer practical solutions and interventions that can be integrated into health, nutrition, and community-based programs globally. The toolkit will support the improvement of healthy development outcomes for babies, while furthering the capacity parents seek for responsive caregiving. This is exceptional work that is going to make an impact and change lives.

Just meeting these families and then even getting the chance to head to one of the Perry County elementary schools to see the Save the Children Literacy program in place… it was so moving. Through Save the Children’s Literacy program, they provide children in Kindergarten through sixth grade the opportunity to increase their reading achievement by supplying the tools they need to develop reading skills and the guidance and support they need to grow as readers. I loved being in this classroom and reading with the kids.

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They were so excited to pick out the books and show how well they can read. Even the young kids in 1st grade, I got the chance to play learning games with them and they were so happy to show me what to do and how to play!

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I saw – firsthand – results happening and it made me truly happy.

I was honored to be part of this trip and see JOHNSON’S making a difference with Save the Children. To know that this is going on right in our country was very emotional for me. The cycle of poverty is a tough one… but the future is in the hands of these children. And with the help of JOHNSON’S and Save the Children, hopefully many of these kids will break the cycle.

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Join me and stand up for children who need access to critical education programs. If you select Save the Children® through the Donate a Photo app, JOHNSON’S® will triple its donation in support of early childhood education programs.

It’s a simple thing to do, but the impact will be immeasurable.

Disclosure: JOHNSON’S covered my travel expenses to Nashville, TN.

About Audrey

Audrey McClelland has been a digital influencer since 2005. She’s a mom of 5 and shares tips on her three favorite things: parenting, fashion and beauty. She’s also a Contemporary Romance Author.

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