January 3, 2012
by Cindy Changyit Levin

Sometimes, it’s hard to fit RESULTS into your life if you’re a parent of young children. At first glance, our activities of media, face-to-face lobbying, and letter writing don’t seem extraordinarily child-friendly. Yet I’ve found that it’s not only possible to include kids into these activities, but doing so adds new energy to the mix.

Kids bring something special to advocacy and sometimes, with their cuteness factor, they can draw a brand of attention to our issues that adults cannot. As soon as they can draw, kids can participate in letter-writing. Newspapers love covering the idea of young people engaging with global issues or with members of Congress. Likewise, members of Congress love photo opportunities with smiling children!

Here are some ways that I’ve been successful at combining kids and advocacy. Even if you don’t have your own kids, perhaps you have some connections for trying similar strategies with the future generation of grassroots activists!

1) Public Schools

We must be mindful in a public school setting not to advocate for a certain bill or position. However, you may be welcome in a school if you think like an educator. You can’t tell school kids exactly what to write as an action, but you can inform them about poverty and show them how to write.

For example, in 2011, our group worked with the Global Campaign for Education at my kids’ school. We brought in a Ugandan teacher who spoke to first- through eighth grade children about global education. Rep. Jan Schakowsky’s district director spoke to the older grades at our request. The teacher talked to them and answered questions about daily life in Ugandan schools. Students wrote messages about the importance of global education to the president on links of a paper chain that were then sent to Washington, DC. We didn’t tell kids what to write but gave them the opportunity to form their own opinions. I also spoke as a parent about why I care and how I advocate.

Children holding a paper chain of letters to Obama   School children at an assembly

2) Camp Fire Kids and Scouts

Camp Fire, Girl Scouts, and Boy Scouts are groups that promote good citizenship. Again, think like an educator! For two years, our activities with Girl Scouts have incorporated their Thinking Day focus about global poverty. We read books, made a poster about the topic, and sent a representative kid/parent team to deliver the poster.  

girls with poster-sized letter and drawing to Sen. Mark Kirk

3) Any Kids

I advocate with neighborhood kids, and with these folks, we are not restricted on taking action. I show them an age-appropriate video and spend time helping them to craft a personalized message about specific issues and actions. You can read a news article with a video showing how we do it. You can also see a picture of girls presenting Sens. Kirk and Durbin with 26 of the neighborhood kids’ letters.

Sens. Kirk and Durbin accepting 26 letters from neighborhood girls

Parent-advocates in RESULTS need not feel hindered because of your young charges. See your parenting as an opportunity to show your children your values in action and to start educating the leaders of tomorrow!



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