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Fighting for Our Children’s Needs Must Come First

Fighting for Our Children’s Needs Must Come First

Children dream without boundaries; they aspire to become paleontologists, astronauts, doctors and teachers without considering socioeconomic barriers, discrimination, disease outbreaks, violence or any one of a host of other challenges impacting their likelihood of success. It’s up to us, as a society, to help each and every child fulfill his or her potential. In fact, the future of our nation depends on it.

NBC/MSNBC public health analyst, pediatrician and activist Dr. Irwin Redlener delivers a potent wake-up call that compellingly underscores the urgency with which we must work toward fulfilling the potential of all children in his inspirational call to action, The Future of Us: What the Dreams of Children Mean for Twenty-First-Century America, which contains a new preface and afterword addressing COVID-19 and its impact on kids.

Inadequate education, barriers to health care and crushing poverty make it overwhelmingly difficult for many children to realize their dreams — and these issues have been dramatically compounded by the pandemic. Finding ways to alter these trajectories is serious, grown-up business, Dr. Redlener emphasizes, and it’s time for us to act.

“We need heartstrings to be tugged by the folks who work on the front lines … But we also need the hard-core, take-no-prisoners types who demand that those empowered to determine priorities and allocate resources understand and respond to the needs of children,” he writes. In The Future of Us, Dr. Redlener draws upon his four decades of professional experiences to examine our nation’s health care safety nets and special programs that are designed to protect and nurture our most vulnerable kids, but that too often fail to do so.

The book follows Dr. Redlener’s long, colorful career, from his work as a pediatrician in the Arkansas delta, to treating child abuse in a Miami hospital, to helping children in the aftermaths of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. He has served on the board of USA for Africa, cofounded the Children’s Health Fund with Paul Simon (and persuaded Joan Baez to play a benefit concert) and dined with Fidel Castro. He once sat across the table from Michael Jackson, and he has traveled with presidential candidates. But his most powerful source of motivation remains the children who face terrible adversities yet dream of becoming paleontologists, artists and marine biologists. Their stories are his springboard for discussing larger policy issues that hinder us from effectively eradicating childhood poverty and overcoming barriers to accessible health care. Persistent deprivation and the avoidable problems that accompany poverty ensnare millions of children and impact the health, prosperity and creativity of the adults they become. Dr. Redlener argues that we must drastically change our approach to meeting the needs of children ― for their sake and to ensure America’s resiliency and influence in an increasingly complex world.

 

Fighting for Our Children’s Needs Must Come First

It is Dr. Redlener’s hope that readers will emerge optimistic about our future, with a deeper understanding of how investing in children today will increase our chances of a successful tomorrow. Fighting for our nation’s children is far from a lost cause, and nothing could be more important.

 

Author Irwin Redlener, M.D., is a pediatrician and founding director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, which works to understand and improve the nation’s capacity to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. In 2020, Dr. Redlener created the Pandemic Resource and Response Initiative at Columbia. He is a public health analyst for NBC and MSNBC, and recently partnered with Cher in CherCares, a new program that assists communities struggling with COVID-19.

 

Dr. Redlener is also President Emeritus and Co-Founder of the Children’s Health Fund, a philanthropic initiative that he created with singer/songwriter Paul Simon and Karen Redlener to develop health care programs in 25 of the nation’s most medically underserved urban and rural communities. He currently serves as a special advisor on emergency preparedness to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, and regularly communicates with leadership in U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, as well as Homeland Security.

 

He is also the author of Americans at Risk: Why We Are Not Prepared for Megadisasters and What We Can Do Now. For more information, please visit www.irwinredlener.org.

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