Kids + Advocacy
Making a difference for children and families.
At Kids Plus Pediatrics, we love kids. We work all day, every day, to keep children healthy, happy, and ready to reach their full potential. We strive for these goals not only for “our” kids we see in our offices, but for all the kids in our region, our state, our country, and the world at large.
Because we want ALL children to live healthy, productive lives, we are compelled to speak out on causes that affect the health and wellness of children and families. We’re eager to lend our voice, as well as our time, our energies, and our efforts, to help make a difference for our communities.
We don’t see these as political issues. We see them as pediatric ones. And as profoundly human ones too.
HPV Vaccine / Cancer Prevention
In the United States, about one out of every four people — that’s almost 80 million people total — are infected with the human papilloma virus (HPV). Each year, about 14 million more people become infected. Most HPV infections resolve on their own, but some last longer and cause some terrible diseases — including cancers of the mouth, head, neck, cervix, vulva, penis, and vagina.
The HPV vaccine, which is recommended for both girls and boys, can prevent those infections and those diseases. It’s safe and effective, and it’s the only vaccine we have that protects against any type of cancers. And yet, the HPV vaccine is the most underutilized vaccine available to children. Vaccination rates are nowhere near as high as they could, or should, be.
At Kids Plus, we’ve long been thrilled to provide the HPV Vaccine, and we have always strongly advocated for its use both in our own practice and in the community at large. In 2017, we took that advocacy one giant step further by producing a 90-second public service announcement for the HPV vaccine. We produced the project ourselves — writing, shooting, and editing it all in-house — and featured every one of our providers who were on staff at the time of the video shoot.
We’re really proud of the the final product, and even prouder to say that it had an impact, both in our offices — we had an upswing of requests for the vaccine through phone calls, Facebook messages, and families who visited us soon after we released the video — and nationally, thanks to the exposure our video got across many video channels and social media platforms.
That exposure also put the video on the radar of national (and international) anti-vaccine groups, who launched an eight-day attack of vitriol, vulgarity, conspiracy theory, and science denial on our Facebook page. That attack only strengthened our resolve to do this important work, and also inspired us to do even more advocacy nationally. To date, we’ve shared our video, our story, and our now considerable experience with fighting off anti-vaccine forces with audiences in Pittsburgh, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago, and Atlanta (for both the HPV Roundtable and the American Cancer Society).
We’re currently working with the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health on a research project that will dig deep into the data we collected during the attack, and we’re developing a Rapid Response Toolkit to help providers and practices across the country prepare for, defend against, and clean up after anti-vaccine attacks.
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
In the late fall and early winter of 2017, after funding was allowed to expire for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a tremendously successful, bi-partisan program that provides essential health care to roughly 1,000 Kids Plus Kids, 170,00 kids in Pennsylvania, and 9 Million children throughout the United States, we had a chance to step into the national spotlight.
Because Kids Plus is recognized as a “Go-To” practice nationally for our insights, our expertise, and our high quality of care, we were asked by multiple national outlets to share our thoughts, insights, and concerns on the failure to reauthorize CHIP funding.
In addition to a live segment with Dr. Todd Wolynn and an awesome Kids + Mom on MSNBC’s “The Beat With Ari Melber”…
…Kids Plus Providers were featured in a New York Times article, a Los Angeles Times article, a Kaiser Health News feature, an NPR feature and audio report, and a Marketplace Business News audio feature.
On January 22nd, 2018, Congress finally reauthorized CHIP funding, bringing the good news we’d hoping and working for to so many children and families in need all across the country.
Early Childhood Education
At Kids Plus, the shorthand version of our mission statement is Meet. Learn. Grow. We want to meet the individual needs of every family, learn what makes each child special, and grow right along with our patients and families.
A huge part of that commitment is our commitment to education. That’s why we offer 20 different health and wellness classes — many of them for free — to our local communities, and why we’ve always been a teaching practice that proudly trains medical students, physician assistant students, nursing students, and pediatric residents in all our offices.
We also believe in the importance of high-quality early childhood education. And we work in many ways to advocate for the access, training, and funding necessary to give all young children the educational opportunities they need to succeed.
Working with a tremendous group of collaborators, including our friends at PAEYC (now Trying Together), Pre-K for PA, PNC Bank, and a cohort from Leadership Pittsburgh, Kids Plus produced 13 videos — you can see one above; here are 8 of them — for the non-partisan Pre-K for PA campaign. Shot in our Kids Plus production studio and on location at local child care centers, these videos were shown to local, state, and national elected officials, as well as to educators, activists, and local community groups in support of increased funding for quality early childhood education.
Our CEO, Dr. Todd Wolynn, has long been a member of the PAEYC/Trying Together Board of Directors, and currently serves as the board’s President-elect. And we have proudly collaborated on many other early childhood education events and initiatives, including with the Fred Rogers Center, the Fred Rogers Company, and the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative.
After Dr. Wolynn attended a presentation on the problem of diaper insecurity, and learned that roughly one-third of American families struggle to afford diapers for their children, our Kids + Communication team leapt into action. In July 2017, we partnered with the good folks at the Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank to launch a month-long diaper drive.
It was so successful — we collected 3,821 diapers! — and helped so many families in need, that we decided to make it a permanent, year-round mission of our practice.
On September 14th, 2017, Kids Plus officially became a year-round diaper drop-off location. Any time we’re open, at any office, we accept donations of new and un-used diapers (including loose ones, open packs, and pull-ups).
Our second annual month-long diaper drive, in July 2018, shattered last year’s record by collecting 6,104 diapers!
To date, we’ve collected more than 20,000 diapers for children and families in need in Western Pennsylvania.
With 12 providers who are International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants and another 6 IBCLCs on staff, Kids Plus is home to the internationally renowned Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh. The level of expertise, service, and support we offer is both a local and national gold standard of breastfeeding support. There’s simply no other practice like us in the country to serve breastfeeding moms and babies.
Dr. Todd Wolynn lectures nationally on the subjects of breastfeeding support and advocacy. His most popular and passionate talk, delivered for a TEDx-style event in 2014, is Milk Money:
With our work in our offices, our Lactation Consultant School program to train the next generation of IBCLCs, our affiliation with the National Breastfeeding Center, and our work consulting with practices, hospitals, and breastfeeding organizations both local and national, we are always advocating to help Moms meet their breastfeeding goals, and to help give babies the best possible start.
Advocacy… For Advocacy
The Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics asked us to produce a video about our advocacy work — to highlight the things we do, and the principles that guide us, in our advocacy for children and families across the region and across the country — for their 2018 Advocacy Day. This video was show to pediatric residents as a way to inform and inspire them about the possibilities of the role of pediatricians as advocates.