Former first lady Rosalynn Carter is celebrating her 94th birthday.
Rosalynn is officially the oldest surviving former first lady while her husband Jimmy Carter, 96, is the oldest surviving former president, according to Newsweek. Rosalynn's birthday on Wednesday comes over 40 years after the couple left the White House.
Born on Aug. 18, 1927, in Plains, Georgia, Rosalynn and Jimmy first met when they were toddlers. They began dating in 1945 and were married one year later. On July 7, they celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary.
Jimmy began exploring a career in politics in the early 1960s. By the time he was a state lawmaker, they were well on their way to parenting four children. In 1970, Jimmy won his campaign for Georgia governor, and in 1976 he was elected president.
The following year, Rosalynn served as the Honorary Chairperson of the President's Commission on Mental Health. She maintained the position until 1978 and continued to advocate for mental health in the years since serving as first lady.
In 1982, she and Jimmy went on to establish The Carter Center, which focuses on "human rights and the alleviation of human suffering" by seeking to "prevent and resolve conflicts, enhance freedom and democracy, and improve health," according to its mission statement.
The center founded the Mental Health Task Force and in 1996, created a fellowship program for journalists wanting to report on mental health topics. The 75th assembly of the World Health Organisation recently acknowledged Rosalynn's lifetime commitment to mental health when WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros presented her with an Award for Global Health, WAGA reported.
Her grandson, Jason J. Carter, who accepted the award for her, said he hoped Rosalynn's efforts sent a message to the public of the importance of mental health awareness.
"The Director-General’s award for global health is especially meaningful to me in light of the Carter Center’s long partnership with WHO to eradicate debilitating neglected tropical diseases and to promote the inclusion of mental health as an integral part of overall well-being," Jason said.
"My hope is that this is the moment when all nations will make behavioral health a priority and create quality systems of care that are equitably delivered. I’ve been waiting a long time to see this happen. I urge all of you attending to use your influence and talent to ensure that it does."
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