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Have a Heart for Kid’s Day 2013

by School's Out Washington | | Posted under Opinions, Policy & Legislation

Last week, hundreds of advocates from across Washington State rallied together for Have a Heart for Kid’s Day. Organized by the Children’s Alliance, providers, parents, and kids travelled to Olympia to meet with legislators and unite on key issues affecting Washington’s children and families.

The day began with speeches by key organizers including Children Alliance’s executive director Paola Maranan and community organizer, Emijah Smith. But perhaps the most moving were the testimonies given by concerned parents and community members sharing with everyone their reasons for advocating for our children. Many testified why programs like HeadStart need to be maintained and supported while others asked for improvements in health and dental care access for kids and families.

The Capitol Steps

The Capitol Steps

Afterwards, participants broke out into different workshops covering the range of topics on this year’s legislative agenda:  fighting childhood hunger, early learning, health and dental care, and afterschool and youth development led by School’s Out Washington.  The afterschool and youth workshop provided an overview of key issues regarding revenue for basic education, high-quality childcare, exclusionary discipline, and childhood obesity prevention.  Advocates learned that out of 27 million children whose parents say their children would be in afterschool programs if they had one available, funding is authorized for only 2.5 million children. Moreover, the actual federal appropriation is even less, which means that government funding currently supports afterschool and youth development programs for only a fraction of our nation’s children.

Once letters to legislators were written, participants joined the rally as they marched in solidarity to the Capitol steps where they heard from special guest speaker, Governor Jay Inslee. Governor Inslee spoke about how important it is that we give Washington’s kids equal opportunity to succeed, beginning with ensuring that every child receives a quality basic education.  However, he warned that our educational crisis cannot be solved by cutting funding to other important state programs that support the health and well-being of Washington residents.

Invigorated by the speech, adults and kids alike, dispersed into the Capitol building to deliver written letters and messages to their respective legislators. Walking through the marble hallways one could see the day’s recognizable slogan “Strong Kids! Strong Families!” on letters, folders, and clothing. Indeed, advocates taking a stand and demanding that kids and their families be a priority for 2013 is surely an important step towards strengthening and protecting our children.

*To learn more about legislative issues of interest to School’s Out Washington, visit our Washington Afterschool Network webpage.

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