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Ideas for Parent Activism
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Type: Projects   Skills: Professional Development
When deciding how to take action in your community, realize your power as a parent. You are the real expert when it comes to what your children and family need. Learn about local childrenís programs and policies that can help you make changes in your community. Remember to write letters or send e-mails; let local leaders know that your children come first. Finally, encourage other parents to join you. Parents working together in any community can make children a national priority. Here are some more tips on helping parents band together to make a difference in your community. Ideas for Parent Activism
What We Learn
Realize your power as a parent
Learn about childrenís programs & policies
Write letters & send emails
Encourage other parents to join
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This activity does not require supplies
How-To
Parents need to overcome what, for many, is a kind of a discomfort about speaking out about issues affecting their children or their community. Parents are stakeholders in the political process and the first thing is they need to be able to feel comfortable about talking about issues of concern. Many parents can do it alone and there are lots of stories of parents who do make an enormous difference on their own. But if parents begin to talk to other parents, they feel a sense of comfort; they feel a sense of their own power. Feeling empowered makes them more effective advocates.

Decision-makers often tell us that there are many debates about programs and services that may or may not be offered to parents and children. Too often parents are not heard. If parents stand together, if they have their voices heard, if they let our decision-makers know that what they are deciding has a direct relationship on the health and well-being of their child, then those decision-makers will listen.

Parents should understand that our decision-makers are just like them. They, too, are parents. We have as much right to get our needs met as anybody else in society. So itís about feeling that this isnít something that somebody is giving you, this is our right as a citizen. Itís about feeling comfortable that weíre doing something that really is going to have a profound influence on our children. If you understand what those stakes are, often it helps people feel more comfortable about being a little bit aggressive when they get involved in the process.

One of the most important things that we can do as parents of young children is to model behaviors, which turn kids into more productive, more active, more involved citizens. Thatís all to the betterment not only of our own family and children, but society, in general.

Kids love to get involved locally, whether itís at a beach clean up or a bake sale. Real young kids can play an important role and kids throughout their development and growing-up years can play an important role. In the 1980s, there was a wonderful example. The recycling movement was really a movement that was driven by kids who decided they wanted to recycle. We havenít had a lot of those experiences in recent days, but they are all out there for us to grab onto. Kids love to feel like theyíre activists, especially if their parents are encouraging it.
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