When Seattle resident Don Cameron attended Advocacy Camp in 2010 with his wife Hazel, the couple had already been staunch advocates for young people in their community for a long time.
Don and Hazel speak up for kids by preventing them from falling through the cracks into the prison pipeline – especially, says Don, in a nation that spends $60 billion a year incarcerating people yet does little to address appallingly low graduation rates. Both work with 4C Coalition, a Seattle-based mentorship program headed by Hazel that grew out of a community response to escalating youth violence in 1999.
“The kids we work with — 50 percent of whom are kids of color — come from low-income homes and a lot of their parents can’t advocate for them,” says Don.
At Advocacy Camp, Don and Hazel met Seattle Times Editorial Writer Lynne Varner, learned the ins and outs of the state legislative process from veteran trainer Nancy Amidei, and received hands-on training on speaking with legislators.
“It’s our job to educate them,” says Don. “We need to let policymakers know how policies are working for kids.”
Since Advocacy Camp, he has used his skills to educate administrators and policymakers about the real impact of laws on kids he works with, including the consequence of suspension on students. “If you do that five or six times in a school year, they can’t catch up,” he says.
Tools from Advocacy Camp have also helped Don build political will and move community stakeholders and partners to speak up for kids, too.
“We’ve really been telling the stories of the kids in the schools and the impact,” he says. “We are making headway from the grassroots level working to the top.”
Get the tools you need to speak for Washington’s kids like Don did. Apply now for Advocacy Camp!
Photo © Rebecca Sullivan Photography