If you follow me on Instagram, I gave a teaser last week that I’d have more info on Strolling Thunder 2018, aaaaand…
Zero to Three is a nonpartisan organization that works to help babies and toddlers thrive so they can become healthy, functioning members of society. You can read more about their mission here. The Strolling Thunder event took a family from each of the 50 states and flew them out to D.C. to meet with their representatives and share their own experiences with their child’s development and to encourage them to “Think Babies” as they consider various policies. Talk about worthwhile!
My family represented Washington state, so we met with Senator Patty Murray, Senator Maria Cantwell’s office, and Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers. It was such a neat experience to meet with them and discuss some of the issues we faced in trying to raise our family. For us, the big one was childcare. Our situation was a little different because we had both graduated from college and worked full-time for a while, had our first child, then moved across the country to go back to school. We lived on my income and had no family nearby to help. Early Head Start was a lifesaver for us. It was affordable, quality childcare that enabled me to work and not worry about my daughter’s safety. Not all of the childcare places around gave me that confidence, and the ones that did cost more than I made each month. Somehow we were lucky enough to get into the program without being on the year-long wait list that most families had. It opened my eyes to so many needs and talking to my representatives about it was so fulfilling. I really felt like we were making a difference.
And then we, along with some lawmakers, Nigel Barker (ANTM anyone?) and members of the community, took our kids on a stroll around the National Mall. It was great.
And lest anyone think that this event is just a way for poor people to ask for handouts, as some internet commenters said on a local newspaper article about us going (boooooo), there were many kinds of families there. Some students like us, a single dad whose ex was not involved with the kids and needed help with childcare and food, families with children who had disabilities and received early intervention services, there was a lawyer with paltry maternity leave and had to go back to a high-stress career very soon after delivery, and many others. All families who wanted the best for their children and recognized that their voices and experiences could help lawmakers make good decisions.
So what can you do?
If you have a child 3 years old or under and have a story to tell that shows Congress why they need to invest in the first three years of a child’s life–apply! They are taking 1 family from each state and D.C. The event will be on Tuesday, May 8, 2018, but applications are due February 23, 2018. You can fill out the application here and look through the website for more information about the organization and the event. I also recommend following them on Facebook to see what they do and information they share.
You can also learn of ways to take action in your community here. If you happen to live in the D.C. area, you can join them on their Stroll around the National Mall!
Seriously, our country needs your voices and stories! You have nothing to lose with applying, but our kids have so much to gain!
Let me know if you have any questions and if you get selected! Good luck!