Speak Up for Kids: 8 Ways to Be an Advocate for Children’s Health

By: Elaine Wang, MD

Elaine Wang, MD, is a pediatric resident at Connecticut Children’s and a proud advocate for children. In honor of Connecticut Children’s Family Advocacy Week, she shares ways to connect with local lawmakers, and stand up for children’s health issues.

8 Ways to Connect With Lawmakers

Legislators are elected to represent your views – so they want to hear about issues that matter to you! You already have the information and tools to advocate for children. You just need to speak up.

  1. Call your representative. (If your call goes to voicemail or an assistant, be sure to leave a message. Messages are documented and shared, and do make a difference.)
  2. Write an email.
  3. Write a letter.
  4. Schedule a personal visit.
  5. Testify before committee.
  6. Sign up for Connecticut Children’s Champions,where you can get updates about proposed legislation and policy issues that impact children’s health.
  7. Sign up for the Speak Now For Kids online advocacy network, which provides prewritten emails to elected officials on important issues. (I’ve been able to contact my elected officials using this platform many times, usually in under five minutes!)
  8. During Family Advocacy Week 2020 (Aug. 10–14), register for a virtual Fireside Chat, open to the public.

6 Tips to Be Effective When Contacting Legislators

Look up contact information for your state and federal elected officials at usa.gov/elected-officials. When you reach out – whether by phone, letter, email or personal visit – keep these tips in mind.

  1. Share your name, home address and phone number, so your legislator knows you’re one of their constituents. This is important!
  2. Identify the specific proposal you wish to talk about by the policy’s name and number, if possible.
  3. Briefly share your position: Are you asking your legislator to vote for or against it?
  4. If you have a personal story that relates, share it in a short sentence or two. If you’re contacting your legislator by phone, it may help to plan these remarks in advance.
  5. Directly ask for your legislator’s support, and thank them and their staff for their time and consideration.
  6. If your legislator votes in support of children’s health, send a thank-you note. In addition to showing your appreciation, it reminds them that their constituents are paying attention to how they vote.

Children need adults to speak on their behalf.

Kids can’t vote, their health needs are very different from adults, and they make up just a small portion of the healthcare industry. As a result, it’s easy for lawmakers to forget about issues that are crucial for children’s health and well-being. It’s our responsibility to remind them.

We all have powerful personal stories that we can share, and as members of the voting public, we all have a voice that deserves to be heard. We need to use that voice to speak on behalf of our children.

Read more about Dr. Wang’s experience on the Advancing Kids blog >>

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