I’m no expert on advocacy. I don’t claim to be an authority on activism. I wouldn’t even call myself a philanthropist. Even still, looking back on the past year, I can say that I have started an amazing journey towards all of these things.
I often refer to some of the more poignant moments in my life as stepping stones as a way to validate each step (and sometimes misstep) as important. A path lines with stones means that each one is necessary to get to the next and no step is ever wasted. Tracing my path since my daughter started high school, I can distinctly recognize each stone that has led me here to where I am—where we are—right now.
It began with with daughter’s Model United Nations class where within the first few weeks of her freshman year the entire world opened up to her. There were so many countries to learn about, so much research to be done, and so many global issues that not only piqued my daughter’s interest, but also troubled her deeply. One evening as she was reading about child soldiers she looked at me with tears in her eyes and begged the question, “Why haven’t you told me about this?” I will never forget that moment. Why hadn’t I told her? Why was so much of what she was learning new to her? I knew the answer; because much of it was new to me.
And so it has begun that through my daughter’s desire to be a global citizen, she is opening up the world up to me. With each assignment she has had to tackle, I too have learned about another issue, of solutions to the issues (either those in place or those with possibility), of numerous NGOs and the efforts being made en masse by people that really want to create a better world. I have learned of ingenuity and inventions that people have come up with just because they’ve got a deep desire to help. And I have learned more about The United Nations than I had ever known before which is certainly no accident because the next stepping stone came from as close to the United Nations as you can get.
A few months into the school year, I received email with an invitation to learn more about a new campaign called Shot@Life. The wonderful woman who reached out was speaking on behalf of The United Nations Foundation. I couldn’t wait to share the details with my daughter who promptly replied, “I don’t care what it is they are asking of you, you HAVE to say yes and you HAVE to ask them if I can participate too.” As we dug into what the campaign was all about we did in fact, decide to wholeheartedly commit. And about a month later my daughter and I boarded a plane bound for the UNF’s Washington DC office for an advocacy training session for Shot@Life.
Sharing an experience like that with my daughter was indescribable. I watched as she (the only teen in attendance) eagerly met all of the adults, hung on every word that was shared, and voraciously devoured all the information presented for the few days at the summit. At the wrap up luncheon, Kathy Calvin, CEO of the UNF, kindly approached my daughter and introduced herself. She commended my daughter for her enthusiasm and commitment and playfully whispered something to her about an internship, after of course she finished high school. My daughter beamed. And as we left the building to walk back to our hotel, she burst out into tears. Having no idea how she was feeling, I asked her if she was OK. She choked out words I will never forget, “Mom, this is going to change my life.”
Since then there have been a number of amazing things that have come from our relationship with the amazing people at the UNF and the Shot@Life campaign. Perhaps the best part is that through my desire to connect with my daughter through the things that matter most to her, it has changed my whole life. Now, beyond doing it for her, I am doing it for myself. I am moving forward, using my voice, taking risks, learning something new every day. I realize that I am barely scratching the surface here but even still, even in the early stages of this journey, it has been nothing short of my own personal renaissance.
Where the road will lead me—us—is a bit of a mystery. But so far, I have loved each stop along the way. From the trip to the Shot@Life Summit, to sharing a panel at the Evo Conference, to participating in Blogust, to attending The Social Good Summit, to sharing my story at an advocacy session in Los Angeles. I am learning, growing, and evolving into someone I never imagined I’d be. An advocate? An activist? A philanthropist? Something like that I guess. It hit me just how far I’d come sitting around a table in Barbara Boxer’s downtown LA office with other Shot@Life Champions (including Devi Thomas of the UNF and actress Amanda Peet), brainstorming on ways to work together in furthering the efforts to immunize children who deserve to be protected from preventable diseases. It was exciting and exhilarating and the only thing I wanted to do was to run home to share it with my daughter. I can only hope that as the stepping stones lay out before us, that she and I can walk together and that above all else, I become the global mother she believes I can be.
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The Teen 1 of 11Beaming on our trip to the UNF office in DC for Shot@Life.
Model UN 2 of 11MUN meets early on weekends for conferences.
My Teen and I 3 of 11On a tour of the Capital building.
Champions 4 of 11The final day in DC with an awesome group of Shot@Life Champions.
Coffee Can Collections 5 of 11Raising funds for Shot@Life.
Team Effort 6 of 11Spreading the word with friends and family.
EVO 7 of 11Speaking on a panel with Shot@Life.
Blogust 8 of 1110,000 blog comments means 10,000 children will be vaccinated.
Social Good Summit 9 of 11Walking the streets in NYC with the Blogust team to the Social Good Summit.
The Visit 10 of 11We met in Barbara Boxer's office to discuss the issues of global health and the importance of immunizing children.
Together in Advocacy 11 of 11My daughter and I sharing an experience of a lifetime together.
For more about Tracey and how she elevates the everyday, visit her at traceyclark.com.
For the story about how she and her teen got here, take a peek at their first post at Reframed.
Want to have a better day? Check out 10 ways to do just that!