By Amy Celep
I awoke this past Sunday to start my day like many other Sundays with a leisurely pancake breakfast with my husband and two boys and a chat about what exciting things we could do that day. Would we swim, go to the park and collect bugs, or head to the library to escape the heat?
But the cover story on Sunday’s Washington Post was a startling reminder that not every family starts their day so carefree. The child on the front page had a striking resemblance to my two-year-old son, which is what first caught my attention. The story goes on to tell the plight of the now more than one in four children in our country who depend on government food assistance, and the scary reality of summertime, when the schools that play such a vital role in feeding hungry kids, are closed.
The story was heartbreaking. Here I work for the subsidiary of Share Our Strength, an organization dedicated to ending childhood hunger in America, and yet for whatever reason, this story touched me in a new, profound way. Perhaps it was the fact that it was very detailed and there in front of my face not only in words, but in pictures. Perhaps it was the resemblance of the little boy, Austin, to my own son, or perhaps it was seeing such a story on the front page of a leading national newspaper that somehow validated the reality for me.
Upon further reflection, what struck me most was the rarity of seeing such stories make the front page of the newspaper. Hunger—like many other issues that affect the 16.4 million children in America who live below the poverty line—rarely make it to the front page, if even in the paper at all. The conflicts we’ve engaged in around the world—whether in Iraq or Afghanistan—hit the front pages over and over again. Meanwhile, hunger, a hidden enemy, continues to quietly suck the life out of millions of kids and families. If we care about the future of our children and therefore our country, we must fight this enemy and we must talk about it.
We often talk about communications as one of the essential ingredients to creating transformational change. This is a perfect example of that power. Invest in communications. Tell the stories of the people you aim to help. Demand that your media outlets find the hidden enemies that are attacking our nation’s children and write about them.
All kids deserve to have the most basic of human needs met, and so much more. Yet, unless we share their stories and call people to action, they go on quietly suffering. They deserve to wake up and start their day carefree—eating pancakes and dreaming about going swimming or collecting bugs at the park.