Advocacy? I have time for that!

Anne (left) and a former SCAN student ambassador deliver drawings from students to Chairman John Forgety’s office. 

As a pediatrician, I love watching infants and toddlers grow and learn. Part of my job is talking to families about how to jumpstart learning in their young children. Knowing that the brain is mostly developed by age 5, there isn’t a day to waste. Early education programs play a big part in supporting early years development.

Sadly, I know of too many families who can’t find preschool or quality daycare due to cost or lack of availability. I decided to volunteer with Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) because I want to do more for the families I serve and use my voice to support high-quality early education opportunities in Tennessee. It seemed daunting at first to find time to commit to volunteering while working a full-time job, but there are many ways to do it!

Here are five ways I flex my advocacy muscle:

  1. Signing on to a letter for my representatives in Congress. SCAN makes it easy by emailing a templated letter and pre-populating all the intended recipients. If I have time to read my emails, I have time to click a link, personalize a message and add my name.

Time commitment: 5 minutes

  1. Sharing information on social media. I follow SCAN on various platforms and share their posts. By using different platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), I help raise awareness and potentially connect people who would not otherwise cross paths with SCAN’s work.

Time commitment: 10 minutes

  1. Talking to friends, colleagues and family. Thanks to training provided by SCAN, I have my elevator pitch ready to tell people why I support high-quality early education, which can be done while in the coffee line at work or while taking an Uber ride.

Time commitment: can be done in a 1-minute elevator ride!

  1. Attending my Community Action Team (CAT) monthly meetings. We meet at a local coffee shop, hear state and federal updates and plan our next events. It’s a fun way to learn more about the issues.

Time commitment: 1 hour per month

  1. Participating in events and meetings with lawmakers. This may seem daunting but to me, it is incredibly fulfilling, because I get to represent voiceless children and engage officials with the power to make a change. And SCAN always has all the information I need to be successful, including talking points and props.

Time commitment: 1-2 hours

All of these efforts really have an impact! In fact, our SCAN chapter recently collected coloring sheets from children in schools all around the state. The kids drew pictures of what they want to be when they grow up and did an amazing job. I signed up to help hand deliver the coloring sheets to lawmakers in Nashville. The State Assembly recently reconvened with more than 40 new legislators this year, so it was a great opportunity to tell them about the importance of high-quality early education! I love going to lawmakers’ offices because they are very welcoming and attentive.

Representative Johnny Shaw was in the office when I knocked on his door. I was able to personally hand off the drawings made by children in his district. I was so excited that I forgot to ask if I could take a picture. I walked back in the office a couple of minutes later and he was discussing how to frame and hang the pictures on the wall with his staff! All in all, I spent one hour delivering the coloring sheets and was able to go on with my day and get to work on time with a big grin on my face.

You too can make a difference for kids in your community, in the U.S. and even around the world. If you have a few minutes to spare, you have time to advocate for kids!

Learn how you can advocate for kids today.