To secure Florida’s future, it is essential we provide the services, programs and resources to ensure the needs of our children are met. This coming week, Florida residents will have an opportunity to make their voices heard in the halls of the Florida Capitol and encourage legislators to invest wisely.
This year, as in recent years, our legislators will have their plates full deciding how to allocate funds and create policies to address the needs of Floridians. We must shine a light on the importance of legislation and programs that provide our children with the opportunity to be as healthy, educated, safe and properly cared for as possible.
There are a range of essential children’s issues that need to be addressed this session. That is why the United Way of Florida, along with more than 100 partners across the state, will kick off its 22nd annual Children’s Week celebration on Sunday by hanging thousands of children’s paper hand cutouts inside the state Capitol. The “Hanging of the Hands” is an annual Children’s Week tradition intended to remind legislators of the individual children who created the artwork and to “give them a hand” while making critical policy decisions.
Children’s Week is a key tool for advocates across Florida because it gives them a platform for their voices to be heard in unison. On Tuesday more than 4,000 families, educators and leaders will gather at the Florida Capitol. Children’s Week partners – including nonprofits, faith-based organizations and businesses – will host exhibitor booths to provide information about important children’s issues, programs and services.
The Early Learning Coalition of the Big Bend hosts an interactive Storybook Village for kids and will provide 3,000 free books to children to promote early literacy. The Florida YMCA Youth in Government hosts a Teens Town Hall Meeting for older students to engage and collaborate with Florida's Children and Youth Cabinet. The Children's Trust/Youth Advisory Committee also hosts a Youth Leadership Workshop on civic engagement. Policymakers will speak out on the back steps of the Old Capitol and thousands of people wanting to make a difference will join together to highlight the most important policy issues facing Florida’s children and families.
I encourage you and your family to join us at the Capitol in Tallahassee for Children’s Week and to advocate for the issues that matter most to you – such as quality education, quality child care, child obesity prevention, nutrition, affordable children’s health care and child abuse prevention, to name just a few.
If you can’t join us Tuesday, please visit ChildrensWeek.com and use our resources to contact your legislators. Raising awareness about these issues is the key to making positive policy changes across the state.
We must stand up for our children; they are our most vulnerable, yet our most prized citizens. Let us safeguard Florida’s future by ensuring our children reach their full potential, have bright futures ahead and are able to lead the way.