March Of Dimes is joining ABC News and the United Nations Foundation in the recently launched Million Moms Challenge.

This first-of-its kind initiative is connecting millions of Americans with millions of moms in developing countries around the world to engage on the critical issues of pregnancy, childbirth and children’s health — moms here helping moms worldwide.

Since its launch on September 19th, 2011, the Million Moms Challenge has built a vibrant community that connects moms across the globe by using the latest social media strategies together with world-class broadcast and digital news platforms to shine a light on the extraordinary challenges faced by mothers and babies in the developing world.

Stories based on compelling characters and innovative solutions are featured on ABC News’ broadcasts including “Good Morning America,” “World News with Diane Sawyer,” “Nightline,” and “20/20,” as well as other ABC News platforms including ABCNews.com and ABC News Radio. The initiative will lead up to a one-hour prime time special on maternal health anchored by Diane Sawyer on December 16, 2011.

“There is so much we can do together – so many simple ways for us all to link arms to make sure every mother and child has a chance to lead a healthy life,” said ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer.

The Million Moms Challenge will focus on things mothers care about: the right nutrition to support their pregnancies, skilled attendants to assist in safe deliveries of newborns, and vaccines that allow children to survive to celebrate their first birthdays and beyond.

“We applaud ABC News and the United Nations Foundation efforts to improve the health of women and children around the world,” says Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. “Our global initiative for the prevention of premature birth, is of particular interest given that worldwide, 13 million babies are born early every year, including more than half a million in the United States.”

As part of the initiative a dedicated website provides a live, interactive forum for some of the nation’s top mom bloggers to share their stories and ideas through blogs and video posts in real time with moms and midwives in the developing world. Viewers who want to know more and get involved will find ways large and small to make a difference in their own communities and around the world. The Million Moms Challenge hopes that at least a million Americans will join the movement by signing up on the Challenge’s website and /or on Facebook.

“You don’t have to be a mom to help a mom,” said Kathy Calvin, CEO of the UN Foundation. “A healthier tomorrow for our world starts with healthy moms and babies today. The Million Moms Challenge gives us the chance to make history by sharing stories, ideas and sparking a global conversation that will help the United Nations build a global partnership for healthy lives,” she added.

In addition to the March of Dimes, the Million Moms Challenge partners include the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society, African Medical and Research Foundation, CARE, Every Mother Counts, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, GAVI Alliance, mothers2mothers, ONE Campaign, Partners in Health, Riders For Health, Save the Children, UN Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign, US Fund for UNICEF, White Ribbon Alliance, and World Vision.

Along with ABC News and the UN Foundation, Johnson & Johnson and BabyCenter are corporate partners in the initiative. BabyCenter is encouraging 10 million moms in the US and 14 million moms overseas to take the challenge and stand up for moms and babies around the world. For the first 100,000 people who sign on to the Million Moms Challenge or like the Challenge on Facebook, Johnson & Johnson will donate $100,000 to some of the biggest NGO partners helping moms and babies overseas.

The Million Moms Challenge is part of an ABC News year-long global health series “Be the Change: Save a Life,” which is sponsored in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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