Our area of focus for April is the area of Maternal and Child Health. As I think about this area, I am drawn to our own “local” project of providing “The Brain Game” books to new mothers and babies in conjunction with the Brookings Health System hospital. This book is designed to help educate new mothers/parents on the developmental needs of their child. It will help them recognize and foster the development of their baby and what is considered “normal” at various stages of development for the child.  This project was developed from the trip to the International Rotary Convention by Larry and Marcia Janssen and a visit to a booth at the convention where Marcia recognized the opportunity that this project would provide locally to help new parents enhance and understand the development of their new babies.  Thus the project idea was born. With the help of a District Grant, funds were obtained, and we have provided the first 120 books to be distributed for 2019. As Larry reported at our meeting on March 26th, the book has been well received by the hospital and the new parents as well.

The book is being distributed at the newborn’s first “well baby” check-up and is then reviewed with the parents to help them understand the various stages of development that their new baby will go through. This method of distribution is beneficial to the parents as it is the only material they are receiving and is one of the areas of focus for this visit. In this way the hospital staff can emphasize the concepts shared in “The Brain Game” and help educate the new parents on how their new baby will progress. One other thing that has developed is the need for the book to be available in Spanish to help Hispanic families to be able to access the information. Consequently, our second order of books will include 20 copies of the book in Spanish. Our expectation is that we will see nearly 400 newborns and their families receive this valuable resource in 2019.

Sometimes I hear about all of the “big” things that Rotary does throughout the world and I wonder how we as a local club contribute to the overall Rotary effort. This project is an illustration of how we can contribute to the local health and well-being of children, but in many ways contributes to the future through the children that we impact. I know it sounds cliché, but none of us know how something positive that we do today may impact the future of a single child, a family, a community or the world. The positive impact we foster today may produce the person who has a profound impact on society as a whole through some new discovery or other dramatic achievement. No good effort is ever wasted and the positive impact on the smallest of us can produce the biggest impact at some future moment. This should be our goal as Rotarians as we work to leave the world a better place than it is today.

Yours in Rotary,