In evaluating the impact of the Real Diaper Association in its first 10 years (August 2004 – August 2014), we often focus on the increase in cloth diaper usage, but the ripple effect our volunteers have on the world around them is worth examining…
As an organization that brings together volunteers from across the US and Canada (and located on military bases around the world), the Real Diaper Association uses virtual meeting tools and online materials to train our volunteers in our core values (especially Nonviolent Communication), in community organizing strategies, and in the latest cloth diaper research. Called LEPs (Leader Education Program), these meetings happen once or twice a month and all current RDA volunteers are invited to attend.
Nonviolent Communication training
The usefulness of the Nonviolent Communication training in areas well beyond cloth diaper education and support was examined in this previous article by leader and board member Janice Roodsari, but here are some great examples:
- Tracey Valade, a Circle Leader in Cornwall, Ontario, says she’s used her NVC training to compassionately help parents fix their improperly installed carseats in her work with SEATS for Kids.
- For Jennifer Nguyen, who started a Real Diaper Circle on Oahu, the training in non-violent communication has been helpful in dealing with sensitive groups of people and situations in her role as Navy Command Ombudsman, enabling her to understand people more while doing conflict resolution.
- Michelle Rivenburg, founder of the Central Jersey Real Diaper Circle also found that using the techniques from Nonviolent Communication has helped her to interact with people in all areas of her life, and is grateful to RDA to introducing her to the book.
The Real Diaper Association’s role in helping volunteers develop their skills, confidence, and experience provides long-term benefits to communities well beyond cloth diapering.
- Since Sara Quast’s days at leader of the Bay Area Real Diaper Circle, she has continued providing cloth diaper laundering, potty training, and natural parenting classes through the local Tiny Tots Diaper Service. She credits her time as a Circle Leader with giving her the confidence to start and lead these community groups (and the organizational skills to handle class mom duties!).
- Ann Maclean, founder of the Northern Virginia Real Diaper Circle, loved being an activist for something she (still!) thinks was one of the most important decisions she made for her kids. After RDA she took over leadership of a school alumni board, using her learning about volunteering to energize people to work on the projects they thought were important and were enthusiastic about, resulting in the most productive presidency in recent board history.
- Rachel Aube has taken her work with RDA as an incentives advocate and Great Cloth Diaper Change host to higher levels, now organizing a large regional natural parenting expo a couple of times a year in Niagara, Ontario. As she explains, “my relationship with RDA, since 2009, gave me the credibility, knowledge and confidence to be a community builder and advocate.”
Other cloth diaper class topics for our volunteers have included sessions on laundry science, cloth diapering fabrics and fibers, and elimination communication and cloth diapers to help increase their knowledge on diapering-related topics to better educate their communities. Business owners especially appreciate this knowledge as they establish themselves as experts in their communities.