Provided by PWCS
The Prince William County Human Rights Commission has selected Charles J. Colgan Sr. High School junior Rania Lateef and her team to receive one of the 2023 Human Rights Awards.
As the president and founder for the organization Maternal and Child Health Upliftment and Progress (MATCH UP), Rania was recognized for the work her group carries out to improve access to healthcare for new mothers and children within the county. MATCH UP is a student-run organization that uses science, advocacy, and strategic partnerships to improve the quality of life for both mothers and their children on a local and global level.
Students on the leadership board from Colgan High include junior Aerin Kim, vice president (VP) of scientific research, public health; senior Vivian Quint, VP of equity, global inclusion; junior Quinn Ray, VP of finance, marketing; and junior Charlie Roderick, VP of social media, communications. Another member of the team is Zaib Zahir, a sophomore at the Flint Hill School, and VP of public relations, community engagement. Dr. David Parrish, assistant principal at Colgan and a member of MATCH UP’s board of advisors, has been instrumental in supporting the students along the way.
When asked what it meant to her to be selected from various groups and individuals for this award, Rania said, “Receiving this award has meant so much to our team at MATCH UP. We are equally humbled and honored that our work was deemed worthy of this recognition.”
Rania elaborated on the beginnings of MATCH UP and her inspiration for getting started: “Having immigrant roots meant I got to visit countries like India where health disparities for women and children [were]stark and obvious. Each time I returned home to the U.S., I found it harder and harder to forget those women whose stories I had witnessed. I also realized that we too have many health inequity problems in our own backyard. After soul searching and brainstorming with close friends, MATCH UP was born.”
One of the many innovative activities the organization carries out to support mothers and children is creating “Mommy-and-me” care packages including essential items for mothers such as diapers, wipes, and non-perishable food items. Another remarkable initiative from the organization includes a “Dial-a-Diaper” hotline that gives families who are struggling to get diapers the opportunity to request them for their children at no cost. On a global scale, the group has shipped out prenatal vitamins to countries where those resources are scarce.
“We believe that supporting the reproductive health of women and promoting gender equality in all spheres of life leads to thriving families and improved maternal and child health outcomes. Empowering women, when they are most vulnerable, propels them towards dignity and security for them and their families,” Rania said.
Her advice for a classmate with an idea for community or service-related projects but feels hesitant to start is, “Don’t wait! There is no perfect moment or perfect set of circumstances to do what you are passionate about. Pitch your idea to friends and family, talk to teachers and classmates and before you know it [your passion will spread], and you will have the support you need.”