By Marianna Foral, Partnerships Coordinator/Senior Match Support Specialist
Part of helping youth succeed is using our power as adults to advocate for them. This means using our voices and connections to help clear the barriers youth may face to achieve their full potential. In the mire of today’s polarized politics, it is easy to lose focus on issues affecting children’s wellbeing. And the issues are many! Of the areas most hotly contested in politics – taxes, healthcare, economic development, job and food security – it is hard to find an issue that will not eventually impact children. The positive impacts of mentoring youth are felt more deeply if the mentee is receiving adequate education services at school, their health needs are being met and they aren’t hungry at home.
Big Brothers Big Sisters does not have a political party and we do not endorse any candidate. But, we DO encourage you to be informed and to vote for kids this election. Educate yourself on the candidates running for office! Voices for Children asked Nebraska legislative and gubernatorial candidates questions specific to issues affecting children and compiled the answers in Vote Kids Nebraska. These surveys aim to help cut through the confusion and allow voters to learn more about politicians, their priorities and the policy decisions they make on behalf of children. Vote Kids Nebraska is a unique resource we are lucky to have as advocates for youth.
There is no better time than the present to be an advocate for youth! There is an election on November 6th (it’s a Tuesday). If you haven’t already, make sure you register to vote and check out important dates related to election, like the deadline for early voting.
As we advocate for youth, we must also teach youth the importance of advocating for themselves. At the 2018 Back To School Picnic, we held a fun exercise to demonstrate to the kids that their voices and votes matter through a mini “election”. At the picnic, the League of Women Voters hosted a table where kids could cast one vote for a match activity they would like BBBS to host in 2019. At the end of the picnic, the votes were tallied and “Outdoor Movie” was chosen as the most popular candidate from “Dodgeball Day” and “Rollerskating”. It was exciting to see kids thrilled when their choice won; it was also rewarding to see how the kids whose choice didn’t win weren’t discouraged. We intend to have more “democracy in action” for our youth at future activities.