That’s why we travel around the state listening to what West Virginians tell us what concerns them; that’s why we help them develop real ideas to solve some of their everyday problems; that’s why we get organized, and campaign and make noise.
And that’s why more than 400 citizens – children and families – took over the State Capitol in Charleston last week for the annual Our Children, Our Future Statewide Policy Summit. Because we want to end child poverty in West Virginia, and we are working to make that happen, one policy change at a time.
Although the problem we are fighting against is a sombre one, the vibe in the room when this campaign gets together is anything but – it’s lively and passionate, full of fire and full of hope.
As I stood in the Capitol building last week, admiring the crowd, more than one person came up to me and said “This is so exciting. I’ve never been to anything like this!”
Well, me neither.
I’ve never before been a part of a group that has achieved so much, so soon.
We celebrated 3+ million more breakfasts for hungry West Virginian kids, and 17.8 million guaranteed hours of physical activity in the schools.
We celebrated 165,275 more families with health care, and hundreds more kids who will end up with a helping hand, instead of behind prison bars.
I’ve never seen a statewide effort led as much by 19-year-olds as 59-year-olds. It is amazing what our young people can do, if you have faith in them and give them the chance to lead.
I’ve never seen this sort of bi-partisan unity. We honored 39 West Virginia State Legislators, Democrats and Republicans both, who have supported our work over the past three years and showed remarkable leadership by helping deliver 18 real policy solutions that made a difference in lives of our state’s children and families.
I’ve never seen such energy from our leaders of the future – citizens that are realizing the positive impact they can personally have, and are getting ready to run for office themselves. Whether they are Independents, Republicans or Democrats, it is inspiring to see more people getting involved in the decision making that affects them.
There is a lot in this state that needs to change, and for a couple days at the Capitol, we got to see what that change might look like.
What happens now? The Our Children, Our Future Ballot released last week contains 18 policy ideas developed by community groups and organizations across the state, proposing solutions to help West Virginia’s children and families be safer, healthier and more prosperous.
We want you to vote for your top 5. The 10 policy proposals that receive the most votes will form the official Our Children, Our Future policy platform that we will advocate for at the State Capitol during the 2016 Legislative Session.
There’s a lot of work to do. But the next step for you is simple. Vote now!