When social media leads to social action

Supermodel Petra Nemcova was vacationing in Thailand a decade ago, on Dec. 26, when it was hit by a devastating tsunami that destroyed communities in 14 countries and took the lives 230,000 people. This month, as the 10th anniversary of the natural disaster approached, she spoke at the Annenberg School for Communication about her experience and her mission to turn tragedy and social media into social action.

Amy Jordan, associate director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, writes in The Hill about Nemcova’s creation of the Happy Hearts Fund as a way to heal communities across the globe.

ASC undergraduate communication major Sophie Lasry with Petra Nemcova. Credit: Kyle Cassidy
ASC undergraduate communication major Sophie Lasry with Petra Nemcova. Credit: Kyle Cassidy

As Jordan writes in The Hill: “Speaking recently at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, Nemcova recalled: ‘At first the doctors were not sure if I would even walk again. But I had the use of my hands. I had the use of my mind. And I had a security system — my home and my family — that so many people did not.’ She returned to the region affected by the tsunami and witnessed that after the first responders leave a disaster area, there is often a gap in support resulting in a life-altering interruption to everyday life. She learned that if a school is destroyed by a natural disaster, it can take six years before it is rebuilt. Nemcova realized that schools were the key to community healing. ‘Schools reopen,’ she said, ‘then so do businesses. There is a profound ripple effect throughout the community when a school reopens. Businesses come back to life, as does the entire village.’ ”

For her entire story, click here for The Hill.