This year, ZERO TO THREE Think Babies partners in states kept the needs of babies in front of policymakers in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.
These advocacy groups gathered families – with their babies! – and spread the Think Babies message both in-person and virtually, focusing on their own state policy goals and continuing the work of improving the lives of their youngest residents. Here’s how they did it:
Arizona: Southwest Human Development held the first Arizona Strolling Thunder event early in the spring in partnership with Arizona Early Childhood Alliance. The event featured a rally and stroll and brought together families from across the state to meet with their elected officials.
Colorado: Raise Colorado Coalition hosted a virtual Strolling Thunder this fall to raise family and community voices in support of pregnant people, infants, toddlers and their families. The event included story-sharing with elected officials, a snack prep demo, kid-oriented self-care and yoga, , dancing, and more. They followed up on the event with an advocacy training for families.
Georgia: GEEARS: Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students, brought babies and parents from around Georgia to meet their elected officials during Strolling Thunder in January of this year. The event included having parents write letters and drop them off with their elected officials, advocacy training, and an opportunity for families to connect directly with policymakers. It drew 40 families and over 30 elected officials, including Governor Brian Kemp.
New Jersey: Advocates for Children of New Jersey hosted their virtual Strolling Thunder NJ in August and featured Special Guest MC La Guardia Cross (creator of YouTube’s New Father Chronicles. The event focused on what New Jersey’s youngest children need to thrive: quality child care, healthy starts for babies, and support for their new parents. In addition to fun activities like baby yoga and sing-alongs, the event featured policymakers and powerful family stories.
North Carolina: North Carolina Early Education Coalition in partnership with the Think Babies NC coalition, brought families, babies, child care providers, and advocates from across North Carolina together for a virtual Strolling Thunder in September. The event featured inspiring speakers, information about policies that can make a difference for babies, tips for being an effective advocate, a dance party and story time. In addition to the virtual rally, the day included a twitter storm, and an action directing people to contact their elected officials.
Rhode Island: Rhode Island Kids Count ensured that even though they couldn’t physically make it to the State House for their annual advocacy event, nothing would stop the army of parents and babies from “virtually strolling” to push for policies to ensure that all Rhode Island kids, regardless of zip code, race, ethnicity, or family income, get off to the right start in life. Rhode Island families submitted photos and participated in asocial media blitz. The event also allowed policymakers to hear directly from families, members of the early childhood workforce, and child care advocates, despite not being able to connect face-to-face this year.
Finally, while the in-person national Strolling Thunder event in Washington, DC was canceled, ZERO TO THREE also pivoted to a virtual format in July. Through “Strolling Thunder Virtual Voices”, families across the country shared their stories and experiences with their elected leaders, with the goal of building political will for child care in the COVID relief package with key Senators. The series of virtual visits was culminated by a national Think Babies and Act call-in day for child care, during which ZERO TO THREE and more than 30 Think Babies partners generated thousands of calls to Congressional offices.
ZERO TO THREE is proud to partner with these states and the advocates that lead the charge to improve the lives of babies and their families across the country. Are you interested in bringing Strolling Thunder and the Think Babies message to your state? Contact us at [email protected] to learn how!