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Member Stories

Member Stories: Doing What We Already Do … and Just a Little More: In the U.S., we have a growing number of individual members, as well as informal group members and student group members. Each in our own way, we are child advocates and activists. We ask individuals and groups to share information about what they are doing.

* From January to May 2010, OMEP-USA member Jerry Aldridge was a senior consultant for the Indonesia Heritage Foundation (IHF), where he provided professional development for teachers and evaluated the national curriculum of the program. The IHF supports teacher and curriculum development for over 1000 low income preschools throughout Indonesia. He also taught classes in human ecology and parent development at a local university.

* As part of OMEP-USA’s Jamaica Project, Carol Darcy, Anne O’Neil, and Claudia Williams provided teacher education programs in Jamaica. OMEP members have also contributed books on child development and early education to build a collection of professional materials for a new early childhood program at MICO University. Kallia Wade, president of OMEP-Whittier College, distributed donated children’s books to a Jamaican preschool when she went home for vacation.

* Judith McConnell-Farmer, OMEP-USA’s Region V Representative, and her students in University of Washburn’s OMEP chapter volunteered at an orphanage in Belize.

* Sondra Cutcliffe and members of her informal OMEP group in Kansas gave money to a local homeless shelter serving children and families in lieu of giving one another holiday gifts.

* Suzanne Krogh has been teaching at the Busan National University of Education in Korea, where she promotes the World OMEP Declaration on Play by having her students learn about the value of play for learning and social development. (Information on the Declaration on Play can be found at

* Alba Di Bello, an OMEP-USA member from New Jersey has been studying ways to engage children, parents, and teachers in healthy discussions of death. She points out that, especially in areas of conflict, children need great support for “understanding the unique and personal journey of loss and strategies for responding to that loss in personal ways.”

* John Surr, OMEP-USA’s Washington, D.C. Liaison, volunteers in a child care center two mornings a week and spends the rest of his time working to strengthen public policies aimed at peace-building, sustainability, and children’s rights.

* Diane Levin led students from Wheelock College to Belfast, Northern Ireland to study first hand how early childhood programs promote healing among children affected by conflict. They also learned about peace education processes underway in Belfast schools. Diane also writes extensively about early sexualization of girls and about the effects of excessive consumerism among children. Watch for her on the Today Show or other programs, where she helps bring our issues to the attention of the general public.

* Milly Cowles coordinated the preparation of a historical document about The Southern Early Childhood Association (SECA) from 1990-2010. She recently completed 10 years of service as Head of a Post-Graduate Leadership Institute for K-12 Principals in the First congressional District of Alabama funded by the Smith Trust.

* Cheryl French and her colleagues at the Child Development Institute at Sarah Lawrence College have been seriously working to promote an understanding of the value of play in learning. Many more details about their work appear on the OMEP-USA website. Information about OMEP’s Declaration on Play can be found at

* As part of the Region III, Edna Ranck, OMEP-USA’s Immediate Past President, helped start-up activities leading to the establishment of a Department of Early Care and Education in Liberia in West Africa.

* Members of OMEP-Whittier College helped children at Broadoaks, the college lab school, knit caps for a pediatric hospital in Malawi and for children undergoing chemotherapy in local hospitals. students in this chapter have also raised funds for Haiti and Japan after their earthquakes and for a variety of other causes. These college students also helped to found the first children's chapter of OMEP, OMEP-Broadoaks.

* New OMEP-USA member Priya Punitar just returned from working with women’s microfinance groups in Malaysia.

* World President Ingrid Pramling Samuelsson; Carol Darcy, World OMEP’s senior liaison at the United Nations; and OMEP-USA President Judith Wagner met with officials at UNICEF, attended a seminar on Early Childhood policies in Rwanda, and participated in a conference on teaching about the U.N. Millennium goals. Many other OMEP members were present at the conference.

* Many OMEP members are childhood researchers who have presented their work at local, state, national and international meetings, always with a view toward disseminating information that will improve children’s lives at home and abroad. Information about OMEP members’ publications and presentations will soon appear on our website at

2012 has been an eventful year for Keyona Forbes, OMEP’s former youth representative to UN/UNICEF. From January- June, she served as a human rights intern in the Gender and Rights Unit at UNICEF. She conducted analysis of research on the rights of indigenous children for the upcoming Resolution on the Rights of the Child. She also a practicum with EngenderHealth, where she and her team completed a qualitative analysis of a quality improvement tool used in Tanzanian health facilities. During the summer worked as a clerkship assistant at Columbia Law School. In fall 2012 she will begin her last semester at the New School's Graduate program in International Affairs, so she is searching for career opportunities abroad.

OMEP-Whittier College members, Dylan Zukowski, Lucie Zahradnickova, and Brianne Kamaladin (president 2012-2013), were official observers at the OMEP World Assembly in Campo Grande in Brazil. They also presented a research poster during the symposium that followed the WA. All three of them are already saving to attend the 2013 world meetings in Shanghai.

Valene Martinez and Leah Bunch helped members of OMEP-Whittier College and children at The Broadoaks School of Whittier College organize the Second Annual Jog-a-Thon to raise funds for OMEP disaster relief projects and for a variety of other child advocacy projects. They raised $14,000, some of which will be reserved for future OMEP relief projects, and the rest of which went to children’s charities selected by the children and the college students. For example, they provided funds for reconstructive surgeries for two children in Latin America with cleft palates.





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