This year Healthy Child Healthy World is celebrating its twentieth anniversary. We have much to be proud of and grateful for beginning with the everlasting memory of a little girl whose short life, only five years, was for a greater purpose.
In 1991, Jim and I founded the charity along with the help of our dear friend Olivia Newton-John, to honor our only child, Colette, who died of a rare non-hereditary cancer called Wilm’s tumor.
Years later it was discovered that Colette’s cancer was linked to pesticide exposure. That fact along with my maternal intuition led us on a journey which would begin a lifetime pursuit to help others prevent many childhood illnesses, some linked to environmental exposures to toxins.
In the beginning, Healthy Child was known as CHEC (Children’s Health Environmental Coalition). Today’s founding members comprise The Honorary Board, and each have contributed invaluable expertise laying the groundwork for subsequent leadership who have upheld our visionary goals.
Throughout the last two decades Healthy Child has supported critical legislation which protects childrens unique vulnerability and susceptibility to harmful chemicals that can disrupt and alter development, increase the predisposition to childhood illnesses including cancer, asthma and some forms of neurological deficit disorders. But most importantly, Healthy Child has become the most trusted source on the Internet for preventive information, arming parents with knowledge and their right-to-know.
Our mission began in 1992 shortly after the birth of the Web and prior to cell phones. Information was not readily available. Parents had to rely at best on ingredients listed on labels, many of which were indecipherable or inert, meaning non-disclosed.
With the allowable and permissible levels of toxins and carcinogens sanctioned by the government, commerce became and still is a lethal gateway for human contact and exposure, with more than 80,000 chemicals released, today, only a very small percentage of those chemicals have been tested for their toxicity on children.
Healthy Child has always had the best medical intervention. Our Advisory Board represents the best and the brightest in their fields. We are honored and humbled by the support we have had beginning with a very special group of friends, Wednesday Moms, a mommy and me playgroup that helped to raise funds and encourage other friends to do the same.
As we celebrate this milestone and the twenty years of achievements, we reflect back on our history and our roots knowing that it takes a village to create a template for the world; the power of people who care not just for their child or children but for others. This is what has catapulted our dream. To safeguard all children and in doing so it has helped preserve the memory of our daughter Colette.
In celebrating our success as a charity we honor the many individuals who have contributed throughout the last two decades and have received recognition for their service and dedication. All have been presented with a bronze machete, Mother and Child created by James Chuda.
The inspiration for this award, as did the inspiration for creating Healthy Child Healthy World, grew from the mother and child bond; that place from which all else becomes. It has been crafted with love and hope and dedication: the love of parents for their child, lost to a form of childhood cancer that may be caused by environmental toxins; the hope that something can be done to protect all children from toxic exposures; and the dedication to do something to protect children’s environmental health today and every day — in every way. This representation is meant to be symbolic of our inseparability from the environment. It is presented to recognize lifetime environmental achievement that comes from just such love, hope and dedication.
Some of the recipients include: Margaret Wentworth Owings, Senator Barbara Boxer, Dr. Kenneth Olden, Lawrie Mott, Meryl Streep, Nell Newman, Olivia Newton-John, Erin Brockovich, Lenore Breslauer, John Adams, Ray Anderson, Norman and Lyn Lear, Cindra and Alan Ladd Jr., Mel and Enid Zuckerman, Arianna Huffington, Dr. Philip Landrigan, and Dr. Harvey Karp.
Today, thanks to the leadership of Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, staff and Healthy Child’s Board of Directors, viewed by more than 350,000 people, our “A Wake-Up Story” video is a gateway point for engagement with our community of two million unique visitors, 75,000 newsletter subscribers, 45,000 Facebook followers and 20,000 Twitter followers.
Online interaction leads to program engagement. Since 2009, more than 4,000 hosts have used our Healthy Child Party kits to educate as many as 60,000 friends, family and co-workers about simple ways to protect children from harmful chemical exposures through integration of our 5 Easy Steps.
One of our most engaging programs, A Mom on a Mission, celebrates inspiring parents dedicated to creating healthier and happier environments for children and families. Each year, we seek to find individuals who have faced life threatening obstacles in their own home environments, communities and states. Undaunted with little resources, each one has fought in honor of their child, to spare illness and grief, others to find cures but all with the hope of prevention.
And the family they call home is creating healthier environments for children every waking hour of each day knowing that we are all connected to the core of our founding mission.
Healthy Child Healthy World ignites the movement that empowers parents to protect children from harmful chemicals.
With a growing body of evidence linking everyday environmental contaminants to asthma, learning disabilities, obesity, cancer and more, Healthy Child translates the science and inspires parents and caregivers to create healthy environments where families can flourish.
For the past two decades Healthy Child Healthy World has been the nation’s leading organization of its kind. We give every parent and caregiver the opportunity to give their child the gift of health. Through education we help to prevent disease by expanding awareness of unnecessary toxic risks to children’s health. We encourage easy actions and responsible lifestyle choices and we advocate for corporate policies and government legislation that protect children from environmental health risks and we engage communities to take collective actions to create a healthier world.
It is with great pride that this year, our twentieth anniversary, we honor and celebrate the first seeds that were planted in her garden. For Colette and all the little children whose lives she has touched. May they blossom and grow.