We Can All Make a Difference! Social Good Summit 2011 and Million Moms Challenge

by Dagmar Bleasdale on September 26, 2011

Do you want to make a difference?

Do you want to help women who die in childbirth because they don’t have access to birth attendants, children and women who get poisoned by toxic fumes from cookstoves, or help bring awareness to the plight of young girls that get married against their will?

You can. I will tell you how you can — and it doesn’t even cost you anything.

Last week, ABC News and United Nations Foundation’s Million Moms Challenge was launched and I was invited to a breakfast at the ABC offices in New York since I’m one of the MMC’s community leaders. Later, the MMC was going to be announced at Mashable’s amazing  Social Good Summit.

I had to get up really early to get on a train for the 9 AM breakfast — after 4 hours of sleep — but I wasn’t going to miss this. Rustin, Holly, and Vanessa from BlogFrog were there, several of the other bloggers who are also MMC’s community leaders, representatives from One.org, the UN Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and other partners of the MMC campaign.

The view from the 22nd floor of the ABC building.

Dr. Richard Besser, Chief Health and Medical Editor for ABC News Dr. Besser, came to the breakfast and later announced the Million Moms Challenge at the Social Good Summit with Juju Chang.

Catherine Connors (Her Bad Mother), Cecily Kellogg (Uppercase Woman), and another blogger.

Cecily, Vanessa Bogehold, Holly Hamann, Teri Whitcraft (Senior Producer at ABC News), Dagmar, Crysula Winegar, and Dina Freeman (Babycenter).

After the breakfast, Cecily, Chrysula, and I headed to the Social Good Summit. As MMC leaders, we were given  access to the Summit and the  Digital Media Lounge.

Mashable, 92nd Street Y, and the United Nations Foundation organized the second annual Social Good Summit. Held during UN week, the Summit is where big ideas meet new media to create innovative solutions.

The Summit unites a community of global leaders to discuss a big idea: the power of innovative thinking and technology to solve our greatest challenges. It ignites conversations between a live audience and thousands around the world via Livestream.

The most innovative technologists, influential minds, and passionate activists come together with one shared goal: to unlock the potential of new media and technology to make the world a better place.

The list of speakers was impressive: Heather Armstrong (Dooce), Christy Turlington Burns, Lance Armstrong, Geena Davis, Maria Otero, Peter Sims, Ted Turner, Richard Gere, and many others.

The Digital Media Lounge was a fully wired work space for bloggers to report out of, network with members of the media, and share content from Social Good Summit sessions. I was a tweeting fool!

I attended the session “Voices from the Frontlines — a Discussion about Maternal Mortality” that was moderated by Emily McKhann, founder of TheMotherhood.

Hearing Dr. Farhana Dewan (Bangladesh) and midwife Angela Nguku (Kenya) talk about seeing women die in childbirth right in front of them moved me to tears. These women are such heroes. Here they are in NYC, passionately talking about needing help, and the next day they are back in their country seeing moms trying to give birth and dying before their babies even see the world. These ladies are doing work not many people can or are willing to do.

After saying a quick hi to Emily, I went to lunch with Cecily and her friend Katherine Stone (Postpartum Progress). I had met Cecily briefly at other blogging events — and her entry for the Voices of the Year session at BlogHer ’11 made me cry because it was so well-written and honest —  but we had never before really spent time together.

Both Cecily and Katherine are so funny, talented, and outspoken — I had the best time! At around 2PM we went back to the Summit to see Juju Chang and Dr. Besser talk about the Million Moms Challenge.

In only three days, MMC has raised $17,000 and received 23,000,000 social media impressions (the Twitter hashtag is #amillionmoms)! Isn’t social media amazing?

Here is a short clip I shot of Juju and Dr. Besser discussing the MMC and the involvement of us bloggers:


I had to get back on the train to pick up L from Grandma, but I saw half of the session with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, both “Elders,” about child brides.

One million girls under the age of 18 get married each year, often against their will. This means their education is cut short and the girls give birth way too young, have complications, and sometimes die. The Elders are hoping to put an end to that awful statistic.

Because President Obama was in town for the UN Summit, many streets where blocked off, so I had to take a taxi, a subway, and then the train to get back home — but it was an amazing trip into the city I will never forget. I was so inspired by all the amazing people and stories I heard.

We can all make a difference — let’s start today!

I think we all want to help less fortunate people but often feel helpless or don’t know where to start. Events like the Social Good Summit make you aware of the many things we can do as individuals, and how social media and new technologies can be used for social good in a very powerful way.

Here is an easy, free way you and I can help: I will donate all our old cell phones to the organization called HopePhone.org, which even provides the shipping costs.

Half a million cell phones are discarded in the United States every day and pollute the environment with tons of plastic and persistent toxins like lead. If Hope Phones can recycle just 1% of disposed phones each year, they can outfit 1 million health workers, improving the lives of 50 million people.

Here are a few other organizations I learned about:

  • The White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood
  • Medic Mobile
  • Global Alliance of Clean Cookstoves

I was exhausted from my day in New York City. I had just enough time to buy a magazine and a treat for Grandma before I jumped on the train.

Yet I was so energized and thankful to have an opportunity to make a difference by being involved in the Million Moms Challenge.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Kathy Morelli September 26, 2011 at 9:54 AM

Hi Dagmar –
Wow! What a wonderful day! I was going to go in, but I was finishing up attendance at the Postpartum Support International’s annual conference, where I spoke. I had one more workshop to attend by Penny Simkin, about Traumatic Birth on Sunday & was exhausted on Monday…
the week was awesome and I watched it vicariously throughout the week from my counseling office.
Thanks so much for covering this!


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