Nancy Chuda: How has fatherhood changed your life?
Christopher Gavigan: It’s life’s single greatest wake-up call. There is a thrust of enormous responsibility and an instinctual drive to protect and safeguard, but also to be active and engaged like never before in creating the home for our child – and I felt it big way. It’s great to witness fellow fathers being really participatory in the family dynamic and acting as an essential component – modern dads are cooking, carpooling, doing laundry, and providing a balanced perspective to the family unit. It’s not to say historically this hasn’t been the case, but in my experience, father’s today are listening to their instincts and really getting more and more involved at every level.
There is powerful awakening when becoming a dad that you are connected to the universe of father’s from the past and those yet to come. I greatly respect and admire the other father’s that I know in my life – we are part of this tribe that will always be there for each other to support, encourage, and gain insights.
NC: What matters most to you about being a dad?
CG: What matters most to me is taking advantage of this golden opportunity. The opportunity to guide a beautifully formed person along their path – and enriching this path and journey with beautiful art, music, history and stories of the past, natural spaces, a variety of voices and perspectives, and a TON of laughter, books, smiles, hugs/kisses, and LOVE. It’s realizing that you get this opportunity, this day of your child’s life, only once. It’s a rich, meaningful, incredibly special opportunity – and I’m going to do everything in my power to make it incredibly fun, exciting, and joyful for my children and family.
NC: As a leading expert and author of Healthy Child Healthy World – Creating A Cleaner Greener Safer Home in the field of children’s environmental health what are your biggest concerns for the future health and well-being of children and the planet?
CG: My biggest concern is the incredible speed at which the industrial and manufacturing realities of civilization’s progress are occurring and the lack of prioritization around the health of the most vulnerable species – our children and really all species children. The reality is that all people seek ways to improve our lives, with better, improved, more convenient “stuff” (it could be cookware, to cell phones or mattresses) – and all these household and lifestyle products have a tremendous impact on the planet. That impact occurs when it’s manufactured, when it’s used, and when it’s ending it’s life. My concern is that the making of “stuff” is not being carried out in a considered fashion – that is to say with a intentional, mindful approach to manufacture in a just, equitable, fair, safe, non-toxic, sustainable, low energy, non-impactful way. Our children are so exquisitely vulnerable. They need us all, especially business, to act mindfully, to make decisions that reduce potential hazards, to create healthier spaces, and to contribute to a healthier, fairer, and more productive life.
But the good news is, and what I get most excited about, is that there is a movement happening all around us. A new generation of parenting – enlightened, connected, vocal, and passionate parents that are changing their world’s at home. These parents are seeking information and being proactive parents making non-toxic and sustainable choices that will benefit their children’s and the world’s health. It’s about taking care of their “polar bears” at home, that will in turn help those polar bear’s up north. Healthy Child Healthy World – Creating A Cleaner Greener Safer Home is the manual for these parents. It’s the must have, must read, must tell-everyone-you-know book of these parents. It’s an easy-to-read lifestyle guide offering great daily opportunities to reduce toxic threats in our family’s life and also improve our personal environmental impact. The book is filled about clear and credible information, with just the right amount of science and health experts, a dash of celebrity stories, and practical solutions that are cost-effective and actually doable. We all live busy lives, so is the definitive resource guide for everyone who loves or knows a child. I hope people realize they can’t do everything, but they CAN do something – and just by doing something, they’ve succeeded. It is the “doing something” that is the important piece here, and this book is filled with opportunities and good, healthy solutions.
NC: As the CEO of one of the most trusted charities in America tell us how Healthy Child Healthy World is impacting the lives of children and families worldwide?
CG: In this time of excessive media and communication platforms, parents are seeking trusted, credible voices with a unique perspective they find to be valuable. Healthy Child is just that – a friend. We’ve been growing tremendously because we are providing a service that is of deep value for all parents. We are strategic about our voice, clear about our target, efficient with our time and resources, and streamlined enough to be proactive and nimble in a crowded marketplace. Even though we reach millions a month, I am constantly challenging our staff and board each day to be relentlessly critical and strive to be better.
Everyday, our source of inspiration and drive comes from that angelic little girl named Colette Chuda (Jim and Nancy Chuda are founders of LuxEcoLiving and Healthy Child), who died at the age of 5. That reality is we are here to prevent this tragic reality from ever happening. No family should have to endure that loss, and Healthy Child exists because there are diseases and illnesses striking children every moment of every day that CAN be prevent. We are here to provide the accurate, need-to-know information to keep your children safe – and our victories are the smiling faces of the healthy, happy children around the world.
NC: Through your leadership the organization has grown exponentially with over 1 million unique visitors a month. How will your strategic vision enable Healthy Child’s mission and goals grow?
CG: We have challenged ourselves and are shifting our thinking from holding Healthy Child Healthy World as a non-profit, to a raging bonfire brand capable of sparking a new generation of parenting. A bonfire brand is a brand that ignites a wave of evangelists that galvanize and mobilize around your mission. They share your stories, add to your stories and share an effortless loyalty to your brand. This focus will build community, build momentum, and foster of movement so that our organization is recognized not only for creating real, measureable impact, but being a movement of social change.
CG: My wife and I make every effort to be conscious and do the best we can, and I definitely wear the darker green pants in the family. That being said, I’m so impressed with my wife’s excitement and eagerness to implement new eco-friendly and non-toxic options after she has all the facts. Jessica needs the hard science, needs to crunch the data, and then likes to take a very level-headed approach to the decision – it’s a big area of common interest. As parents, we can get so easily charged with emotions of guilt and shame when we are trying do what’s best for our children with the information we have. Jessica and I cultivate a partnership that’s constantly learning and expanding our awareness each day, and being open to new thinking. It’s the black and white, limited, and dogmatic thinking that keeps people stuck.
Here are some examples of ways we try to make a healthier life at home:
- We adopted No-Shoe policy for the home. By simply taking off shoes at a doorstep – it will prevent 80% of the dirt, grime, bacteria, pesticides, etc in your home that is tracked on the bottom of your shoes.
- By opening up windows and doors, we are actively reducing toxins in our air. Asthma is the #1 reason for absenteeism in schools, so flushing fresh air in your home is important. We have a few varieties of plants in the corners that also help detoxify and purify the air too.
- Eating organic foods as much as possible – it’s more nutritious, healthier for our son (and baby on the way), and much better for the health of the planet. The investment in our health and wellness will far outweigh the bit more of cost on your market bill.
- Our grandmother’s used the best (and safest) home cleaners – they used simple items like baking soda, white vinegar, water, lemon juice, and a drop of peppermint oil for scent. Simple, safe, more economical, and just as effective – honestly!
NC: One of the greatest tools on the Internet is utilizing social network media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to get your message to people and their friends.
CG: I’m glad you asked, because we produced a video that is special and really important. It’s gaining tremendous popularity – and currently being used to “wake up” parents, teachers, and even legislators on the Hill. The Wake-Up Story is a short video that was designed to visually and musically enticing and beautiful, but takes the viewer on an emotional roller coaster ride, with flashes of science, truth, and reality. It’s intended to draw out core emotions like joy, anger, sadness, and frustration that are universal feelings – especially for parents. Everyone who sees it finds it powerful in one way or another, and to me, that’s a big success.
And like all the programs we create at Healthy Child, this Wake Up Story is no different – we utilize the power of mass media and communication platforms to connect to people and help them understand how NOW is the chance to act, NOW is the opportunity to create healthier environments for children, and NOW it’s of value and important. If you can deliver them the best information and reach them at an emotional and intellectual place, the final challenge to convince people to do it now – and that is our obsession.
NC: Most dads want their sons to grow-up to become sports hero’s and moms wish for even more, they want them to become President– what do you wish for your son’s future?
CG: I hope my children can achieve a balanced life where they are personally and professionally fulfilled, where they gains respect from their peers and his children alike, act responsibly for the earth and future generations, and be self-reliant, empathic, inquisitive, and most of all – playful. And I hope they learn to play piano (because I always wanted to)
WATCH A Wake Up Story: