THE BLOG

Entertainment Industry Acts for Children

05/12/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

With an art opening reception for Cole Sternberg -- to benefit the Children's Action Network (CAN) -- taking place on Saturday, April 11, at Fred Segal in Santa Monica, now seems like a perfect time to let people know that there are children's issues out there -- from adoption to immunization to hunger -- that need to be addressed, and that there is an organization like CAN addressing them.

More than 15 years ago, a group of people in the entertainment industry, including couples Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg, Lorraine and Sid Sheinberg and Stacey and Henry Winkler, recognized a need to improve the lives of children in the United States. So they got a few other friends involved -- Nancy Daly, Lezlie and Mark Johnson, Robert A. Daly, and Diana Meehan and Gary Goldberg -- and founded the Children's Action Network.

Other supporters, including Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks, Whoopi Goldberg, Melanie Griffith, and Robert Zemeckis, to name a few, have since become part of the "Family of Friends" which has adopted the National Adoption Campaign as its main program. The National Adoption Campaign is committed to raising awareness about the joys of adoption and finding nurturing safe homes for children who don't have one. More than 129,000 children are in foster care in the U.S. waiting to be adopted, and CAN's goal is to find loving and adoptive families for each and every one of them.

Through extensive public education campaigns, community-based programs and policy initiatives, CAN mobilizes the power of the entertainment community to increase awareness about children's issues and to make them a top priority in everyday life. Through CAN's annual CBS special A Home for the Holidays, National Adoption Day (NAD), This is Me and the Los Angeles Adoption Initiative, CAN enlists the public in improving outcomes for all children in foster care.

NAD is a national effort to celebrate adoption that takes place in 240 communities across all 50 states. More than 24,000 children have been adopted from foster care on NAD since 2002. In This is Me, a series of short films of children in foster care waiting to be adopted, the children are introduced to a broader audience, connected with mentors and adoptive families. The signature element of the Los Angeles Adoption Initiative is a specially retrofitted mobile unit that travels across Los Angeles to recruit adoptive parents at the community level.

But that's not all. CAN also uses its clout in the entertainment industry to address other issues impacting children.

In the early 90s, alongside the American Academy of Pediatrics, CAN worked with the media to help the government and pharmaceutical companies inform parents about the importance of immunization for children under the age of 2. As a result, 200,000 children were immunized against childhood diseases.

In November 1996, CAN turned to helping the children living in poverty in Los Angeles. Along with Sony Pictures Entertainment, and the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank, CAN launched Kids Café, providing children with hot meals as well as a reading program, homework help and other activities. The partnership has provided more than 90,000 meals to children.

And, after the FCC in 1997 mandated TV networks to have three hours of educational programming a week, CAN helped develop the guidelines -- Building Blocks: A Resource Guide for Creating Children's Educational Television -- that are now used by professionals in the creative community and station broadcasters.

Children's Action Network plans to keep speaking out on behalf of children until every waiting child finds a loving family. In the nonprofit world your voice should never be silent and your hands should always be out, hopefully filling those little hands with a future.

So back to the art event in support of CAN that I mentioned at the top of this post. The art and design communities have a long history of getting involved with charitable causes. On Saturday, April 11, 4-7 pm, contemporary artist Cole Sternberg teams up with Fred Segal for Nirvana + Stained Glass, a one-of-a-kind fusion of fine art, fashion and charity at Fred Segal Man in Santa Monica. Fashionistas, contemporary art collectors and celebrities will mix among Sternberg's frenetic oil, watercolor, ink and spray paint works. Along with Sternberg's array of paintings, this exhibition event will feature handmade shirts and jackets created by Sternberg in partnership with designer clothing brand, Nice Collective. Proceeds from the evening will benefit the Children's Action Network.