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State Strolling Thunder™ Events in 2018 Created a Nationwide Drumbeat for Strong Infant and Toddler Policies
Babies from all over the nation stormed state capitals in the spring of 2018. Families met with legislators, shared their stories and spread the word about what babies need to thrive in their states and communities.
All the rumbling was thanks to ZERO TO THREE’s Think Babies™ state partners who built local Strolling Thunder™ events off the national Strolling Thunder that was held in Washington DC on May 8th, 2018. These partners engaged families and lawmakers in rich, baby-focused conversations and created their own Think Babies drumbeat via social media and a visible family presence in each of the state capitals. Here are a few highlights of those special baby-filled days:
The Colorado Children’s Campaign and Clayton Early Learning launched Strolling Thunder CO on May 8th featuring speakers from Clayton Early Learning, Colorado Children’s Campaign, Nurse Family Partnership, Roots Family Center and Lt. Governor Donna Lynne. The day also included performances by Seven Falls Indian Dancers and Kalama Polynesian dance performers. Families from local HIPPY programs participated and community members representing Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Association for Infant Mental Health, Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado State Libraries, the Craftsman and Apprentice, Happy Baby Organics, Healthy Child Care Colorado, Junior League of Denver, Kith Colorado, Moms Demand Action Northwest Denver, Motherwise, Remembrance Wellness and Yoga, Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center, WeeCycle, WIC, and Vroom offered resources to families at the play date. As a special treat, invitations to the rally were delivered attached to baby rattle cake pops to remind everyone to attend the rally on the East Lawn of the capital
On May 12th, GEEARS: Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students brought families from the metro Atlanta area to the capital for Strolling Thunder GA and to speak with elected officials about the issues that matter most for their infants and toddlers. State Senator Nikema Williams and Fulton County Commissioner Natalie Hall were speakers at the event which included an appreciation brunch for families, an interactive performance for the children, and roundtable discussions. At the roundtable discussions, families were asked to share what their favorite parts of parenting were and what a city that supports infants and toddlers looks like to them. Here are some of their answers and more information about the event.
On May 21st, families joined Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) at the State House Annex for Strolling Thunder NJ to tell legislators that they want them to make babies a state priority. Parents, clergy, advocates and lawmakers spoke about what babies need to grow. Topics included affordable quality child care, more generous paid family leave and healthcare services. Here is some local coverage of the event.
Rhode Island KIDS COUNT organized a Strolling Thunder RI event on May 16th, and brought families with babies and toddlers to the Rhode Island State House. Speakers for the event included Representative Grace Diaz and Senator Elizabeth Crowley, co-chairs of the RI Permanent Legislative Commission on Child Care along with Courtney Hawkins, Director of the RI Department of Human Services, and two infant-toddler educators. The event focused on the importance of high-quality child care for infants and toddlers and was paired with the Rhode Island Association for the Education of Young Children (RIAEYC) Early Childhood Advocacy Day. As an added bonus, legislators were able to interact with families and children in a model early childhood learning environment that was set up right in the state house!
North Carolina Early Education Coalition brought babies, parents, and early childhood advocates to Raleigh on June 7th for Strolling Thunder NC to call attention to what babies and families in North Carolina need to thrive. The event focused on healthy beginnings, supporting parents and quality and affordable childcare. Many attendees met with their legislators to talk to them about the need for more investment in early childhood programs, and everyone enjoyed baby playtime and a group stroll around the NC General Assembly to raise awareness. Along with partners from MomsRising.org and the NC Association for the Education of Young Children (NCAEYC), participants also dropped off baby announcements at every legislator’s office to let them know about NC’s newest arrival: The Think Babies campaign. Here is some local coverage of the event.
In Los Angeles, California, parents, babies and toddlers from across Los Angeles County joined together for their Strolling Thunder Event to urge local leaders to Think Babies – for stronger families and vibrant communities. The event included a family learning fair with many local nonprofit organizations on hand to connect families with high-quality early childhood development resources. The festivities culminated with a group stroll bringing the thunder to South Gate Park with a spirit-lifting drumming circle.
Washington’s Strolling Thunder event was led by Children’s Alliance and included a parent speaker and organized activities led by Kaleidoscope Play and Learn. The event was aimed at raising awareness around investing in children from birth to three. A ‘call to action’ for participants included the creation of a banner, sharing stories on postcards and snapping photos to share to social media. Follow up opportunities for participants to learn about ways in which they could engage and continue to advocate as the 2019 session approached were planned and included an invitation to register and attend The Children’s Alliance advocacy camp that took place in the fall, one on one communication with the birth to three policy lead and sharing stories via social media.
The goal for this state work was to build awareness and advance state infant toddler policies. In addition to rolling out their own version of Strolling Thunder, each of the organizations was in the process of developing an Infant and Toddler Coalition that would continue the work after the event. Coalitions focus on one or more of the four Think Babies policy priorities as they make decisions and develop plans for the future.
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