Kid Governor® Mila O’Brien Visits Capitol as an Advocate for Children
Oklahoma City – The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) was fortunate to have 2023 Kid Governor® Mila O’Brien attend the Legislative Education Caucus to visit with them about issues important to her.
In her campaign to win Kid Governor®, Mila highlighted youth mental health issues and the need for sensory toys for young people to have as learning tools. Over this next year, she intends to hold several events to promote both topics and elevate the discussion.
Lawmakers attended the meeting last Thursday, asking Mila some great questions. Following the meeting, Mila toured the building. She was recognized with a citation on the floor of the House of Representatives and introduced to the state Senate.
She then visited individual lawmakers about issues OICA is working on this legislative session.
Through the partnership with the Connecticut Democracy Project, the entity that helped develop lesson plans tailored for Oklahoma, OICA became an affiliate and has helped Fifth Grade teachers have age-appropriate curricula to use. OICA also published a comic book given to the students that helps them understand how business works at the State Capitol.
These lessons help the teachers have a specific direction to help discuss each of the branches of government and how voting works. The teachers can even implement an enhanced portion of the program to teach about how campaigns work.
The classes that undertake this additional component can have students in a class run for the office of Kid Governor® and be the nominee for the school. OICA will then take the two-minute videos that the students use as a campaign commercial and will narrow it down to seven finalists.
From that, we publish a ballot similar to the ones used by Oklahoma voters. The students will watch the videos and then vote for the candidate they feel will best represent them.
The plurality winner will then serve as the Kid Governor® for the year, along with promoting the issues brought forth in their video as they speak to groups around the state.
So far, Mila has also spoken to the Enid Rotary Club and done several media interviews. Her schedule will be busy throughout the year as she makes her way around the state sharing the importance of getting young people to better understand the process, and hopefully become voters once they turn 18 years old.
For the schools and teachers interested in this program, there is no cost attached to this. OICA works through the year to raise funds to cover the cost of printing, sending the voting materials to the schools, and helping cover much of the cost Mila and her family incur while she is Kid Governor® of Oklahoma. The Kid Governor® program is open to any Fifth Grade classroom in the state, including traditional public schools, charter schools, or private schools.
We are thankful to the Kid Governors® who came before Mila, and we certainly appreciate their work to help us get to this point. If you are interested in supporting this program, please reach out to Lucy Gutierrez at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (405) 236-5437 to learn more as the new program will kick off in August.
We also want to thank former Oklahoma Governors George Nigh, David Walters, Frank Keating, Brad Henry, and Mary Fallin for supporting this program. OICA will hold a fundraising reception on May 23 to help raise the funds to run the program for 2024. You can learn more about that event at https://oica.org including information about how to get involved.
Notes: The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is celebrating its 40th Anniversary in 2023. According to promotional literature, “The organization 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.” Their mission statement: “Creating awareness, taking action and changing policy to improve the health, safety, and well-being of Oklahoma’s children.” Chief Executive Officer for OICA is former State Representative Joe Dorman, whose essays on public policy issues appear often at city-sentinel.com, in print editions of The City Sentinel, and here at CapitolBeatOK.com. Pat McGuigan, founder and publisher, established CapitolBeatOK.com in 2009 as an independent, non-partisan and locally-managed news service.