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As a parent, you wear plenty of hats—chauffeur, tutor, and bedtime-wrangler, to name a few. Think you have time to add “activist” to the list?

Perhaps you do. The nonprofit group Mothers Acting Up (MAU) makes it easier for mothers to play an active role in their communities, countries, and even the world. MAU provides inspiration to get moms moving, and instruction, support, and resources to get them started.

Who: Amid their increasing concerns over the state of children in the world today (including issues like malnutrition, AIDS, and education), four Colorado mothers decided to take action by launching MAU on Mother’s Day in 2002. The date’s significance goes beyond the obvious: Women’s-rights activist Julia Ward Howe gave her “Mother’s Day Proclamation” in 1870, envisioning it as a time for women to unite and fight for the rights of children everywhere.

What: Projects have ranged from raising money for a developing village in Haiti to reviewing socially responsible businesses. At the heart of every issue is the desire to protect the world’s children. The resources provided by MAU show members how to attract attention to their causes, contact legislative figures involved in the issues, and explore partnerships with other organizations. MAU spans 49 states and 23 countries, and its members can act individually or with a community.

How: Creative, positive initiatives help get MAU’s messages across. For example, the group’s “girlcott” programs encourage members to support a worthy business by making a point to spend money there (as opposed to a boycott, where protestors withhold money from a company they don’t support). MAU members also walk on stilts (that’s right, stilts!) in parades and public events to make themselves even more visible—literally raising their causes and voices up for the world to see.

Impact: Members can take the tools provided by MAU and adapt them to their agendas. One MAU community in Nashville fought budget cuts to its local public library by writing op-ed pieces and reaching out to other organizations for support. In the end, no cuts were made. A community in Boulder, Colorado, is putting its time and resources into supporting the Global Campaign for Education in its fight for equal education opportunities around the world.

To participate: Visit www.mothersactingup.org.

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