As I attended NAPNAP’s Annual National Conference in New Orleans this year, I met my fellow pediatric colleagues with a heavy heart for children both in the U.S. and all over the world.
As a 2019 candidate for President-Elect, I shared the following message at the opening session in my speech:
I've been to the border to talk with NPs working in detention facilities in my home state of Texas. I cared for unaccompanied minors who made a long and dangerous trek. I saw an outbreak of pneumococcal disease in teens from El Salvador. I met colleagues who cared for a baby trafficked back and forth across the border to enable groups to stay together. I saw my neighboring community, Santa Fe, endure the unspeakable tragedy of yet another school shooting. I cared for children injured in that act of senseless violence. Some had injured bodies, though all had injuries of the heart and soul. I identified victims of sex trafficking in my own clinical practice. I was a first responder for families who lost dearly loved children to suicide. Daily, I encounter teens with depression and anxiety, many related to emerging adverse health effects from social media.
These things and many others I haven't mentioned, but you know very well, are enough to depress even the most optimistic Pollyanna. In the last semester of my PNP program, my preceptor gave me this window prism as a bit of a joke to commemorate my undaunted enthusiasm and Pollyanna spirit, but in reality, as a reminder to me to not become cynical, to keep playing the Glad Game. 18 years later, I still am. I'm glad to be a part of NAPNAP, a visionary organization with passion for child health. I'm glad to work alongside fearless and forward-thinking leaders. I'm glad to see NAPNAP taking bold steps with Partners for Vulnerable Youth, leading meaningful strides to end child trafficking. I'm glad to be part of an organization who is unafraid to engage in difficult conversations about guns. Immigration. Mental health. Vaccines. Anything we can do to empower healthy children and healthy families. I'm glad to join more than 9,000 of you with courage in the face of darkness.
Winston Churchill said "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen."
It will take extraordinary courage to impact the issues facing pediatric healthcare today. It will take our collective efforts, our acquired knowledge, our applied wisdom, and our unwavering dedication to fearlessly do whatever it takes to be a voice of advocacy for children all over the world! As pediatric healthcare professionals, we CAN, and we MUST do more. All children should have direct access to quality, affordable care provided by Nurse Practitioners and other pediatric healthcare professionals. It will take every voice in this room, and every resource you have, and all the courage you possess. We must have courage and seize the day to rise up and lead. The time is now! Will you join us?
As I began attending sessions at the conference, I found my spirits lifted by the optimism and courage of my colleagues. NAPNAP is a forward-thinking organization and has undergone strategic and significant change in the last five years, positioning itself for maximum nursing impact on child health. Three years ago, I was honored to help found NAPNAP Partners for Vulnerable Youth, a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to the health and well-being of all children, but especially the most vulnerable. Our first initiative, the Alliance for Children in Trafficking (ACT) has made significant strides to end child trafficking. On Friday night, we trained our first group of ACT Advocates. ACT Advocates will be part of NAPNAP Partners’ speakers’ bureau, engaging community groups at schools, hospitals, faith-based organizations, youth groups, private clinics and others on grassroots awareness on preventing trafficking.
Other accomplishments of ACT include creating a new online training platform encompassing three modules for healthcare providers: 3-PARRT (Providers Assessing Risk and Responding to Trafficking) training, which are online and available to all at www.napnappartners.org. All healthcare providers should be educated and equipped to identify potential victims of child trafficking and intervene on their behalf.
Those who want to help this cause can donate, explore our history, request an ACT Advocate to come to your clinical arena to educate your staff on intervening and responding to trafficking or become an ACT Advocate themselves. You can also contact ACT for help in implementing a clinical protocol in your organization, and we encourage you to use the new ICD-10 codes approved for potential trafficking encounters in the clinical setting.
As The Leader in Pediatric Education for Nurse Practitioners © NAPNAP is continuing its mission to “empower pediatric-focused APRNs and their interprofessional partners to advance child and family health through leadership, advocacy, professional practice, education and research.” NAPNAP Partners and ACT Advocates are sure to help advance these efforts while cultivating new leadership with courage, optimism, and dedication, buoyed by the newly adopted Diversity and Inclusion Statement. From expert to novice, this organization is working together to change the world.
Jessica L. Peck DNP, APRN, CPNP-PC, CNE, CNL, FAANP is the Chair of Alliance for Children in Trafficking (ACT).
Illustration by April Brust