The wind, the rain and hail in Olympia could not stop hundreds of children, youth and families from all over our state from showing up for kids as they shouted, “S-T-R-O-N-G, strong for kids is what we’ll be!”
Our voices were heard throughout the capitol campus yesterday, as children, youth and parents – some bussing from their cities as early as 2 a.m. to make it to the Capitol – marched to the state capitol steps, where we were joined by Rep. Ruth Kagi and Majority Leader Sen. Lisa Brown.
After some inspiring words, advocacy workshops and a heartening rally, hundreds of advocates told their legislators and the Governor to stand strong for kids, too, delivering their passionate pleas to protect children as letters to their representatives.
One parent and first-time participant, Don Cooper, brought his 3-year-old son Lee to Olympia from Longview. Lee was born with two holes in his heart and received his first open-heart surgery when he was six weeks old, and survived another at six months old.
“It’s been three years since he’s had open heart surgery, and he’s a miracle kid,” says Don, who has been able to cover Lee’s care through Apple Health for Kids.
Don came to advocate for his son to ensure that Lee got his final heart surgery, and was moved by the greater cause. “I’m standing up for all kids. Every child deserves medical.”
April Ritter Terry, a mother of three and former parent ambassador with the Washington State Association of Head Start & ECEAP, hoped that all participants walked away feeling their voices were heard, just like she did her first time in the state capitol.
“I never thought that when I first stepped foot here that people would actually listen to me, and now I have representatives emailing me for information or wanting more statistics from my area,” she says.
We hope this great convergence of hearts and minds will move and shake beyond the moment – through and even past this legislative session.
Many thanks to all the people who made it happen.
View photos from this year’s Have a Heart for Kids Day.
Photo above by Tegra Stone Nuess.