The August Wilson Center in downtown Pittsburgh came alive Monday night as 8 women activists offered their "Big Idea" to fix healthcare. The event kicked off with a film retrospective of women whose activism gave us everything from equal rights, to safer health care, to control over our reproductive freedom, to less drunk driving on our roads. Then each presenter had three minutes on stage to make their case for why their organization deserved the $10,000 prize, along with help from the local WHAM Community to bring their idea into reality, and a panel of judges from the worlds of medicine, activism and industry followed up with incisive questions.
Big Ideas included empowering girls in grade school to combat sexual harassment, ending domestic violence trough a program in doctors' offices, providing a safe place to reach out for help with rehab and others. All were guaranteed a platform from which to spread awareness and gain support. After a round of audience voting, followed by a pow-wow among the nine distinguished judges, the winner was announced: The Latino Community Center's pitch to offer prenatal classes in Spanish for its community.
Pulled together in just three months' time by the amazing team at the JHF, the event was well-organized, inspiring – and as you can see from the photo booth pictures and clever signs we were provided – lots of fun!
To all the finalists – we hope the event's exposure and inspiration carries your efforts higher and further. And below, in the moving words of Marcela Anita from the Latino Community Center as posted on Facebook, is affirmation of why our collective support matters so much. Congratulations all!
"Today I'm very proud that the project for perinatal support for the Latinas won the WHAM Big Idea Challenge . I'm happy to have a confirmation that other people are hearing our voices and acknowledging the struggles of our amazingly resilient community.
"It was a breath of fresh air after so many challenges. Since I started teaching the prenatal classes and going to the births of my community here in Pgh, I have accumulated many stories that have touched me deeply and changed me forever. Stories of incredible strength that merely words will never do it justice. So many sleepless night I spent witnessing births of hope that flourished like a colorful flower in the midst of a cold asphalt. I can never describe the strength of Latina immigrants. Women who left their home and their heart across the borders to fight for a future. Refusing to ever giving up hope. Moreover, disdainfully towards all the obstacles of an immigrant life, they give birth to hope.
"It's a small step celebrated with my heart. I learned with our madres latinas that everything is possible. So we will continue with our next steps aiming to end once and for all the institutional discrimination that prevents people from having basic human rights such as healthcare. We will also continue with our steps to end obstetric violence during childbirth. Women deserve respect. We are Latinas, we are here and our voice will echo until it's heard! Thanks #WHAMGlobalPittsburgh!"Enter your quote here...