The United Way of Florida and its 120 partners throughout the state will shine a spotlight on key issues affecting Florida’s youngest citizens March 26-31 when they host Children’s Week, an annual celebration in Tallahassee which provides parents, policymakers, professionals, community leaders and concerned citizens with a platform to share valuable knowledge and advocate for children and family issues. Children’s Week includes a variety of interactive and educational events and activities to be enjoyed by toddlers, teens and adults alike.
“Children’s Week partners believe children and their families should be the state’s highest priority year-round” said Ted Granger , president of the United Way Florida. “Children’s Week at the Capitol provides us a high-intensity and high-profile opportunity to help policy makers embrace that priority and guide their work to benefit all of the state’s children and families.”
Children’s Week will commence on Sunday, March 26, with the Hanging of the Hands ceremony during which thousands of paper cut-outs of children’s hands will be hung inside the State Capitol. After this hallmark celebration, the majority of Children’s Week activities will take place on Tuesday, March 28, outside or around the Capitol. Here’s an overview of events taking place:
- Hanging of the Hands will take place Sunday, March 26, from 12–4 p.m. in the Capitol Rotunda. Thousands of pieces of children’s “hand art” with messages to legislators will be hung from the ceiling of the Capitol building, creating an impactful display to remind policymakers to “give a hand” to Florida’s children. The “hand art” is decorated by children at schools and childcare centers throughout Florida and mailed to organizers. The hands will remain on display until Friday, March 31. Photos of “hand art” are also shared on social media using the hashtag #GiveUsAHand.
- Children’s Capitol for a Day will take place Tuesday, March 28, from 8:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. on the State Capitol courtyard and is open to the public. Thousands of people are expected to attend. Free breakfast, lunch and Starbucks coffee will be provided for all attendees as they visit exhibitor booths hosted by Children’s Week partners. One of the most popular events happening is the Storybook Village hosted by the Early Learning Coalition (ELC) of the Big Bend. Over two dozen favorite children’s stories will come to life as volunteers create a “village” of interactive reading booths with activities for children to explore. There also will be a Storybook Stage to hear stories read by local authors and leaders in the community. All children visiting the Storybook Village will receive a free book. Adults and children are encouraged to dress as their favorite storybook character.
- “Teens Only” Town Hall Meeting, hosted by the Florida YMCA Youth in Government, will take place Tuesday, March 28, from 10–11:30 a.m. inside the Cabinet Meeting Room. It will provide a public forum for students across the state to work together with Florida’s Children and Youth Cabinet to address important issues relating to children’s services. Youth are encouraged to attend and participate in the audience Q&A session. The event is free and will be filmed and live-streamed on www.childrensweek.org.
- Young Lives Matter: Exploring the Root Causes of Youth Violence will take place Tuesday, March 28, from 1–2:30 p.m. at City Hall. This dynamic 90-minute workshop will dig into the root causes of youth violence, and examine the risk factors that affect both individuals and communities. The Children’s Trust/Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) moderates this workshop geared to generate honest exchange and authentic conversation. This workshop is open to youth in middle school or high school who want to learn how to turn their passion into action and make a difference in the community.
In addition to events happening March 26-31 in Tallahassee, local Children’s Week events are happening around the state now through April. For more information about Children’s Week and events in your community, to sign up to volunteer or to register your group for events, please visit www.childrensweek.org.