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Preserving language, protecting youth and serving the public’s health

Preserving a language and the vast culture attached to it starts at a young age. This is especially critical for Indigenous languages, which face endangerment. The University of New Mexico’s Department of Linguistics and Lobo Language Acquisition Lab are launching a first-of-its-kind Indigenous Child Language Research Center. Their goal is to follow the progress of Navajo infants and children at the Saad K’idilyé Diné Language Nest and demonstrate the inherent value that language and culture have on them. Cherishing children by honoring their languages and cultures is at the heart of transforming education in New Mexico.

Also in New Mexico, childcare providers, parents and advocates are spearheading a movement to prioritize early childhood education. More than 10 years ago, this child-centered movement took form, organized by parents, teachers and Tribal and community leaders. Over the last decade, New Mexico celebrated many national historic milestones, most recently the passage of a permanent fund to support early learning. It’s one more way in which New Mexico is leading the nation when it comes to putting kids and families first. New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky has rooted racial equity and community engagement in the department’s priorities, while also creating an aligned system of workforce development and pay parity.

In Mexico, Chiapas Paralelo published an article in both Spanish and Tsotsil on youth suicide prevention efforts in the Chiapas Highlands. The piece focused on organizations responding to an increase in suicides among Tsotsil adolescents and youths and featured grantee Vientos Culturales. In 2020, Vientos released “Kuxlejal,” a powerful film on the subject, which it began using this year for a suicide prevention campaign in schools. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation supports the organization to help advance its mission of developing safe spaces, increase capacity building and foster empowerment of children and adolescents through media, arts and research in Chiapas and other parts of Mexico and Latin America.

The CDC Foundation named the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC) and the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) the winners of the 2022 Fries Prize for Improving Health. ASTHO and BCHC – which are WKKF grantees – and NACCHO supported the front lines of the state, local and territorial COVID-19 response in the U.S. The organizations represent “the best that public health has to offer,” according to Judy Monroe, M.D., president and CEO of the CDC Foundation.

Health care professionals in Haiti continue their lifesaving work in extremely difficult circumstances. In an article about a resurgence of cholera in Haiti, Le Nouvelliste quoted two WKKF grantees: Dr. Jean William Pape of the Port-au-Prince-based infectious disease institution Gheskio, and Conor Shapiro of Health Equity International, which operates St. Boniface Hospital in southern Haiti. Dr. Pape reported on the high number of children he has been seeing at Gheskio’s cholera treatment center, and Le Nouvelliste cited a Boston Globe interview in which Shapiro described the current state of Haiti as the worst humanitarian crisis his organization has had to confront. 

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