What to chase your dreams but it’s more difficult than you expected? Here is an inspiring story of a New York doctor who was motivated by stuffed animals.
Dr. Aletha Maybank is an associate commissioner at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and founding director of its news Center of Health Equity. She was recently portrayed by the Brooklyn Daily and we found it quite inspiring so we decided to share some of it with you.
Three years ago she helped to create the “We Are Doc McStuffins” campaign. It was inspired by Disney Junior’s character Doc McStuffins who provides primary health care for stuffed animals. She even diagnoses her brother’s teddy bear with “acute dusty musties” and prescribes it a laundering to help cure it.
It sounds cute and funny, but Maybank saw it as an inspiration. “It changes the narrative about who can be a doctor,” says Maybank, who was profiled for being a real-life Doc McStuffins on Disney Junior for Black History Month, along with her co-founders of the Artemis Medical Society, a group supporting female physicians of color and aspirants.
For Maybank Doc McStuffins was an opportunity. She saw it as a way to show children of color a role model. A way to inspire them to become doctors or whatever they want and not feel like they aren’t worthy or shouldn’t.
“It’s not about being equal, it’s about being fair and equitable because not all communities have the resources to implement something that is universal,” says Maybank, a Clinton Hill resident whose advocacy has helped to install 28 miles of bike lanes in Brownsville, pilot a community health worker program in public housing, and expand the number of doulas or birth companions for new moms in central Brooklyn.
She is also working hard to create a healthy neighbourhood and has built the strategy for it. It inlcudes quality food, clean and safe parks, timely access to proper medical care, sound education, violence-free environment. It all sounds too difficult to achieve, but it is definately not impossible. And if something as simple as a stuffed animal and a cartoon character can be inspiring to achieve something, then what’s to say that a clean and healthy neighbourhood can’t be done? All it need is to spread the word and have more people involved in it and small wonders can happen.