January 3, 2012
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

Sens. Kirk and Durbin accepting 26 letters from neighborhood girls

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