They traveled from all around the United States, some as far away as Alaska, from varied backgrounds. These informed women, many of them moms, some of them scientists or medical professionals, had one concern in common: safer chemicals for a healthier future. I met some of them at the train station in Baltimore, where one mom had been tasked with bringing her child’s stuffed bear along for photo shoots at historic places. They were headed, just like I was, for our nation’s capital city. We would all be joining hundreds of concerned citizens for the national Stroller Brigade for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families.
If you saw these empowered women using their voices in the mainstream national media last week, you might have dismissed their concerns as trivial in relation to the big picture of things we have to be concerned about. You might not have realized that behind some smiling faces were stories of loss, even the profound loss of a child.
Kelle Pressley of QC Super Mom was one of those smiling faces. Pressley and the youngest of her nine children joined the Stroller Brigade with Moms Rising, walking in memory of her beautiful daughter, SaMya, who died at age 11 from Autoimmune Hepatitis while waiting for a liver transplant. Pressley said, “So that’s why I’m here with Moms Rising for safer chemicals, let’s label that stuff. You definitely have to empower yourself, because the kids can’t do it for themselves…empower yourself, take care of your kids!”
Moms Rising members Tina Sherman, Stephanie Lormand and Jeannine Sato all traveled from the North Carolina area, bringing kids along to be a part of speaking up to their US Congress members. I caught up with them after their time of citizen lobbying, while they and their children were getting a much-needed break on the US Capitol lawn.
New mom Gretchen Alfonso wore her baby during the Stroller Brigade, doing double duty as field manager for Moms Clean Air Force. Alfonso thinks parenting extends beyond personal responsibility to some issues too big for any mom to tackle alone. “I feel like people I elect should be taking care of me and my family, making sure we’re safe and healthy. TSCA is older than I am. We missed a whole generation, we have a whole new generation of kids that we need to start protecting.”
Stroller Brigade participants were as diverse as American families are today. Some were stay-at-home moms, some full-time office moms. Mostly, they were concerned parents who are fed up that the nation’s outdated chemical safety laws don’t use the latest science and medical information to protect citizens. This, despite common knowledge that pregnant women and their babies are involuntarily polluted with toxic chemicals in our everyday environments, including our homes. The Stroller Brigade included some of the 450 different organizations that make up the diverse Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition. Clean Water Action and Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow were among those member groups, and I met folks from those groups who had traveled from the East Coast. Thanks to SCHF for making my trip possible.
Still to come in November: how a woman’s struggle for motherhood captured the attention of a Hollywood filmmaker, plus how an irreverent attitude helps cancer survivors thrive in today’s changing world!
PS: more to come about my Tennessee visit to Capitol Hill