- Feature Story: Campaign Turns 5 – A Look at Then and Now
- Go Out and Play! Kit for Early Educators
- Community Health Center Television (CHC-TV)
- Spotlight on Campaign Champions (Dr. Gregory Abowd, Lisa Kowalski, and Sofia Quezada)
- Conference Update
- Welcome to the Team
- What People Are Saying
The “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” Campaign Turns 5!
The “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” campaign launched in late 2004 to educate parents of young children about developmental milestones. Five years later, the campaign is celebrating a milestone of its own. Our campaign messages have been shared with potentially more than 11 million health care professionals, parents, partners, campaign champions, and early educators. As we celebrate 5 years of success, we reflect on how far we’ve come.
Then: We knew that to help identify children with autism and other developmental disabilities and begin appropriate intervention earlier, we needed to raise awareness about developmental milestones among parents, early educators, and health care professionals. We also needed to raise awareness of the importance of acting early on concerns about development. We had many challenges to tackle, but also a sound foundation of research and lots of enthusiasm to get us there!
Now: We continue to build on a foundation of early research about the knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of parents, early educators, and health care professionals related to early child development, as well as how best to reach them with our messages. We’ve seen a lot of positive changes in the past 5 years!
Then: Though familiar with some motor milestones, such as walking and riding a tricycle, many parents had little knowledge of important cognitive, social, and emotional milestones, when their child should reach them, and when to seek help.
Now: More parents can identify behaviors that suggest a child may have autism (37% in 2004 vs. 59% in 2008*) and know that the best time to get help is before age 2 (22% in 2004 vs. 41% in 2008*). The campaign is just one of many contributors to this increased awareness about autism and development over the years.
*HealthStyles, 2004, 2008
Then: Many pediatricians would tell parents to “wait and see” if children who showed signs of a developmental delay would outgrow it on their own.
Now: Fewer pediatricians “wait and see” when parents show a concern (30% in 2004 vs. 22% in 2008*).
*DocStyles, 2004, 2008
Then: Many early educators reported they were in need of resources to help monitor a child’s development and talk with parents about important milestones.
Now: The campaign offers an early educator resource kit, web information and tools, e-cards, and the new Go Out and Play! Kit to help early educators monitor development and encourage dialog with parents about development. Campaign materials have been on exhibit at 24 conferences with more than 135,000 attendees.
Then:Our national partners – Autism Society of America, Autism Speaks, First Signs, Organization for Autism Research, and the American Academy of Pediatrics – have supported the campaign from the very beginning and continue to do so today!
Now: In recent years we have developed additional partners that have deeply enriched the campaign and expanded its efforts and impact. We’d like to thank the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau and the Association of University Centers on Disabilities for their partnership in recent years and as we look ahead. Along with our partner list, the number of “campaign champions” has grown as well. Today, we have more than 580 individuals from all over the country working hard to spread the messages and materials of “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” throughout their communities.
While we take pride in the success of the first 5 years of the campaign, we know our work is not done. We are invigorated to continue to educate all communities of parents, health care providers, and early educators about developmental milestones and will continue to meet the needs for information and products to help monitor development and act early on concerns.
Reaching out through health television programming in clinic waiting rooms
The “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” campaign has expanded its partnership with Community Health Center Television (CHC-TV) by providing content for the television programming they offer members of the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC). NACHC was founded in 1970 to provide quality health care for underserved Americans. These centers provide health care to more than 17 million Americans with limited financial resources.
CHC-TV provides health education and important community information to patients in 90 health centers and is slowly expanding to 1,150 health centers across all 50 states and U.S. territories. As patients wait, they will be able to view the “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” campaign PSA, the campaign’s “Baby Steps” video, and the newly developed “Milestone Moments Fun Facts,” which highlight developmental milestones from birth to age 5 and include tips for parents to encourage their child’s development.
The “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” campaign has been on the conference trail all spring and summer. We have spread campaign messages to various audiences and reached consumers, health care professionals, and early educators at the following conferences: the American Academy of Physician Assistants; National Rural Health Association; Society of Pediatric Nurses; Audiology Now!; National Head Start Annual Training Institute; Birth to Three Institute; National Association for Family Child Care; Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses; and the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners.
We’ll be traveling around the country throughout the fall. We hope you’ll stop by and see us if you are attending any of these upcoming conferences:
- Mothers of Preschoolers – Nashville, September 24–26
- American Academy of Family Physicians – Boston, October 15–17
- American Academy of Pediatrics – Washington, DC, October 17–19
- Parents as Teachers – St. Louis, November 8–11
- National Association for the Education of Young Children – Washington, DC, November 18–21
“Learn the Signs. Act Early.” would like to welcome the newest member of its campaign team, Rebecca Wolf, MA. In mid-June, Becky joined CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities’ “Learn the Sign. Act Early.” campaign team as acting team leader. We couldn’t be happier to have her!
Becky has more than 20 years of experience at CDC in communication and policy. Before joining the campaign, she led the formation and implementation of an employee communication program for CDC, building an award-winning online newspaper and intranet portal, CDC Connects. She also established vehicles for two-way communication across the agency to facilitate timely and open dialogue between CDC leaders and employees. Additionally, Becky has led teams in issues management and communications, strategic budget planning, legislative analysis and implementation, and program and policy evaluation.
Have an Inspiring Story To Tell?
We love hearing how you are using campaign materials and raising awareness in your communities. We’re always looking for success stories to share with partners and campaign champions throughout the country. We want to hear from you! If you or someone you know has an inspiring story to tell as a result of becoming involved in the “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” campaign, please send it to email@example.com.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
“Learn the Signs. Act Early.”
Campaign by the Numbers
in the last Five years
- Health care professionals, early educators, and parents have requested more than 100,000 resource kits.
- More than 30 organizations, representing many cultures, have helped share campaign messages and materials with their members and the communities they serve.
- More than 833,000 people have visited the campaign home page, with more than 2.8 million page views and 156,000 material downloads.
- Media coverage has helped the campaign reach out to an estimated 4.1 million people through national outlets such as “Good Morning America,” Newsweek, Parents, and The New York Times.
- The campaign has placed radio, television, and print PSAs more than 2,300 times. The TV PSA also aired in New York’s Times Square, earning a potential audience of 91 million people.
- The campaign has received 15 awards, including the 2006 HHS Secretary's Award for Distinguished Service.
Activity kit helps educators monitor childhood development while kids have fun in the sun
This June, “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” released the new Go Out and Play! Kit to early educators, child care providers, and summer activity directors. This kit is full of fun, interactive activities for children ages 3–5 that can be built into everyday playtime at a school, camp, or child care center.
Through the activities, educators of young children have a natural opportunity to monitor key milestones in social, cognitive, and emotional development. For example, as children play tag or “hide and seek,” educators can track important developmental skills such as turn-taking, cooperation, and following directions.
The Go Out and Play! Kit includes sample activities, like games and scavenger hunts, and suggestions for how to make an activity day safe, successful, and fun. It also includes information about monitoring developmental milestones and tips for talking with parents for the early educator who suspects a child has a delay. A special pull-out page for parents gives ideas for activities they can do at home to monitor their child’s development.
The Go Out and Play! Kit is available on the Early Childhood Educators page at the campaign website, www.cdc.gov/actearly. There, you’ll also find a variety of tools to help monitor developmental milestones, including complete resource kits for early educators and child care providers. Spread the word and “go out and play!”
If you’re an educator who has used the “Go Out and Play!” Kit, we want to hear how you played! Let us know how you’ve used the kit by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send us your success stories, what you’ve learned, and photos. We’ll share them in a future issue of Campaign Connections!
Father helps families by merging the worlds of technology and autism
Dr. Gregory Abowd, Georgia
As a father of three children, Dr. Gregory Abowd knows the importance of monitoring developmental milestones. Two of Gregory’s children have autism, which inspired him to start the Autism Research Group at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Gregory and his team are on the leading edge of using technology to address the many challenges of autism.
Campaign champion works with libraries to increase community awareness of developmental disabilities
Lisa Kowalski, Michigan
“My desire is to spread child development awareness throughout my community in the hope that it will reach audiences nationwide, especially parents. Parents need to know
that there are many resources available to them, but the best tool they have is themselves,” says campaign champion Lisa Kowalski.
Where Are They Now?
As the “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” campaign approaches its 5th anniversary, we continue to be inspired by the impact our champions have in their communities. We checked in with some of the champions we’ve highlighted in past issues to see how they are doing now. We are thrilled with what we are hearing and are reminded why champions are so important to the campaign.
Our first update is on Sofia Quezada from California. Look for more “Where are they now?” stories in future issues of Campaign Connections and on our Partner Spotlights web page.
As her family grows, so does her passion
Sofia Quezada, California
Sofia originally shared her story in the August 2007 issue of Campaign Connections. She spoke of her difficulty finding information to help her son, Julian, who has autism.
Since we first met Sofia, she has added a baby girl to her family while continuing to support the campaign and working toward a degree in special education to help other children with special needs. Julian is enjoying being a big brother and is excelling in school…
What People Are Saying About the Campaign
“I received this kit and have put it in our emergency department at The Children's Hospital. I am also using it in a pediatric lecture that I do on autism for our EMS/FIRE community … I find this to be very useful information and am glad to distribute it.” Society of Pediatric Nurses conferenceattendee
“We are slowly but surely getting the message across. The media can continue to play a huge role in informing the Latino community … more coverage can only help our cause.” Sofia Quezada, mother of child with autism
“Awareness and education are valuable for everyone, whether or not a family is directly impacted by autism.”Dr. Gregory Abowd, father of two children with autism