5 Ways Mothers Have Changed the World
Here at Moms Clean Air Force, we believe motherhood is a powerful force to be reckoned with. Here are a few (of many) reasons why:
1. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
NAMI was founded in 1979 by Harriet Shetler and Beverly Young. For Harriet and Beverly, the inspiration to form the alliance came from their sons, who were both schizophrenic.
Within six months of their first meeting, 75 people had joined. After receiving a newsletter from a similar organization in California, Harriet had the idea to hold a national conference—bringing in 250 attendees, including many mental health professionals. At the conclusion of the conference, a national group had been formed, named and financed.
In 1999, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, Dr. Steven Hyman, called NAMI “the greatest single advocacy force in mental health.”
Today, NAMI has affiliates in every state and more than 1,100 communities.
2. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
The tragic death of Candice Lightner’s 13-year-old daughter by a drunk driver prompted her to found MADD. Publicity in the form of a 1983 television movie about Lightner helped the organization grow rapidly, and soon, under MADD’s influence, the National Minimum Drinking Age Act was enacted.
Since MADD’s founding in 1980, the death rate from alcohol-related traffic accidents has declined—according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), alcohol-related deaths per year have decreased from 26,173 in 1982 to 16,885 in 2005.
3. Erin Brockovich and the Case against PG&E of California
As a single mother of three, and without any formal legal education, Erin Brockovich beat the odds when she came to play an instrumental role in constructing a case against Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) of California.
While answering phones at law firm Masry and Vititoe for $300 a week, Erin followed her instincts and began investigating what was initially a real estate case. Through a relentless search for the truth, she soon discovered that PG&E had been leaking a contaminant called Chromium 6 into the well-water of Hinkley, California, for more than 30 years—leading to multiple ailments in the community, ranging from chronic nosebleeds to cancer.
In 1993, 634 Hinkley residents hired Masry & Vititoe to sue PG&E. The case was settled in 1996, for $333 million—the largest settlement ever paid in a direct action lawsuit in US history.
4. Amber Alert
What would your first reaction be if your child went missing? In 1996, Richard Hagerman and Donna Whitson reacted to the January 13th abduction of their daughter, 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, by calling the news media and the FBI. Amber’s body was found four days later.
The event inspired her parents to establish People Against Sex Offenders (P.A.S.O.). After receiving abundant local media coverage, President Bill Clinton signed the Amber Hagerman Child Protection Act into law in October 1996.
That summer, P.A.S.O. spokesman, Bruce Seybert, spoke about quick efforts the local police and media could take in order to help find missing children. Shortly thereafter, a reporter from Dallas radio station KRLD approached the Dallas police chief with Seybert’s ideas. This launched the Amber Alert.
In October 2001, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children—which had previously declined to be a part of the Amber Alert—launched a campaign to have AMBER Alert systems established nationwide. Since its founding, AMBER Alert has expanded internationally to nine countries.
5. BPA in Baby Bottles
Any first visit to the pediatrician with your newborn can be overwhelming, but would you ever think it could lead to a national movement? It did for Joanie Whitman in 2006.
During her first visit to the pediatrician with her newborn son, Joanie was advised to use only glass bottles, in order to avoid exposing her son to estrogen that leached from plastic. Skeptical about the doctor’s advice, Joanie called her sister, and retired nurse Alicia Voorhies for more information. Alicia and Joanie soon learned that the advice given by the pediatrician was not only correct, but quite alarming. Armed with this newfound information, each sister proceeded to call a couple friends, who called their friends. And so on.
Within two years after the BPA conversation started among moms, the entire U.S. baby bottle supply (millions of bottles) was completely reconfigured—showing just how powerful mom-to-mom word of mouth communication can be!
Be a part of our movement!
There is no doubt that mothers are a force to be reckoned with. History has proven over and over again that, when moms join their voices, they can change the world. Join now to support clean air so that our children can breathe easier.
Photo credit: Moms Clean Air Force