By Columba Sainz January 8, 2019

When my family moved to Phoenix almost a year ago, my daughter Columba was thrilled. There was a beautiful park visible right from our front door. She couldn’t wait to go run and play in her new neighborhood. She begged to go.

After our trips to the park, she started wheezing at night. I didn’t understand what was going on, or how I could help her. With pollution from buses, planes, construction, and cars, my healthy daughter was now struggling to breathe. I learned from our pediatrician that the air quality in our neighborhood was making her sick. He said no matter where we moved in Phoenix, it wouldn’t make a difference for her health. How do you tell your three-year-old that she can’t go play at the park?

That’s one of the questions that led me to Moms Clean Air Force — to join moms fighting so every child has clean air to breathe.

We don’t go to the park anymore. It’s sad for me to say as a mom, but I’m afraid of going outside my house knowing the quality of air my daughters are breathing. It’s just one of the reasons I’m fighting to make sure Columba and her little sister Alissa have clean air to breathe. And it’s the reason I’m working to bring moms, dads, and children together across Arizona to make sure they understand the impact that dirty air has on our kids — and that they know the power they have to demand change.

We’re building up parent power in cities all over the country to make sure that every child is safe. In coffee shops over cafecitos, in living rooms, and in community centers, we’re bringing people together — mostly moms and children. Here, moms have the opportunity to share and hear their stories and why they fight to protect their children. I’ve been moved to tears by moms sharing their stories of the ways that pollution harms their kids.

It is impossible to doubt the love of a mother. We don’t fight for a political agenda or special interests — we fight to keep our children safe, healthy, and alive. As mothers, our voices are our most powerful tools for change.

There is no work more genuine than this: mothers fighting for our children’s health. We’re fighting for regulations to protect our air so our children can live a normal life. I’m fighting so one day when my daughter asks to play at the park, I don’t have to say no because the air quality is so bad in our neighborhood. I’m fighting so one day all children can run, play, and learn in their communities, without thinking once about the air they’re breathing.

Columba Sainz is a mother of two and Moms Clean Air Force’s Arizona organizer.