For the Children: A Weekly Column by Joe Dorman, CEO – OICA
With the ongoing pandemic and the national emotions over injust policies, there is no way to anticipate how many Oklahomans will vote at the polls on Tuesday, June 30. Rest assured, though, this is a critical election for our state. We encourage every voter to not let this Election Day pass by without your vote.
Voters will decide the nominees for who will represent their parties in the November General Election and also on the ballot is a question placed there by voters to allow Oklahomans to decide whether our state will join 36 others that have expanded Medicaid.
If approved by voters, more than $1 billion of Oklahomans’ federal tax dollars going to those other states will be brought home. This money, which we are already paying, will be used to cover 200,000 more Oklahomans with health care, creating 27,000 new jobs in the next five years and saving many hospitals and ambulance services.
The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy’s Board of Directors endorsed this state question. Also, the child advocates attending last year’s Fall Forum wholeheartedly supported this proposal.
To stay safe, OICA asks voters to consider voting early at their county election boards this weekend to help reduce long lines on Election Day. Please block off enough time to wait, along with keeping a safe distance from others and wear a mask to help reduce the growth of COVID-19, which appears to be spreading again.
Advocacy goes beyond voting. It is the mission of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy to create awareness, take action, and support policy to improve the health, safety, and well-being of Oklahoma’s children. We, as an organization feel that is the responsibility of Oklahomans of all ages to engage with their elected officials and let them know about preferred policies.
To that end, over the weekend, OICA helped sponsor the Children’s March for Justice organized by young people with the assistance of Black Lives Matter Oklahoma City and the Oklahoma City Public School District. The purpose was to raise awareness about issues facing young people, especially those of color in urban areas.
The children marched several blocks from one school to another and heard from some older heroes from Oklahoma City’s civil rights movement. These advocates encouraged the young people and helped to “symbolically pass the torch to this younger generation of civil rights pioneers,” said by one of the advisors.
As a way to help keep people safe, OICA provided the masks for those who did not have one or had left theirs behind. It was rewarding to see so many young people peacefully standing up for their beliefs. They helped raise awareness and learned that their voices are equally loud in developing advocacy.
It was also good to help remind each of them that while they want their voices heard, they also need to protect themselves from the pandemic and take it seriously. With the spike in positive cases of coronavirus in Oklahoma – especially among younger people – it is essential to fight this disease with common sense social distancing, handwashing and disinfecting, and masks.
As we go forward, please encourage your own children to get active. Teaching them the lessons of the past is a way to educate them to have a voice in the future to improve our cities, state, nation, and the world.
About OICA: The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy was established in 1983 by a group of citizens seeking to create a strong advocacy network that would provide a voice for the needs of children and youth in Oklahoma, particularly those in the state’s care and those growing up amid poverty, violence, abuse and neglect, disparities, or other situations that put their lives and future at risk. Our mission statement: “Creating awareness, taking action and changing policy to improve the health, safety, and well-being of Oklahoma’s children.”