On January 25, 2021, Voices hosted the Campaign for a Trauma-Informed VA: Racial Truth & Reconciliation Advocacy Day with a theme of “amplifying the voices and truths of the people.” We hosted three advocacy day cohorts: caregivers, youth, and artists, who vigorously trained in an effort to champion public policies that impact families and children during session. With a virtual session this year due to COVID-19, advocacy looked very different but was even more accessible without the travel time! Cohort members from all over the state were able to collectively bond via zoom training sessions, GroupMe, virtual events, and of course, the big day– the advocacy day!
Cohort groups were each assigned a Voices advocacy coach, who served as their cheerleader, support system, and trainer on all issues related to advocacy, storytelling, justice, and legislative meeting preparation. In December, participants attended their Advocacy 101 training, which gave them an introduction to the campaign, the ins-and-outs of the general assembly session, how a bill becomes a law, and the power of storytelling. Following, in January, they were able sit-in on a deep dive of Justice Advocacy, which included information on issues ranging from untaught history, voter suppression, historical trauma, and more. In every training session, advocates worked on crafting their stories for the legislative advocacy day, but they also had one-on-ones with Coach Mary Beth Salomone Testa, Chloe Edwards, and Courtney Reece to ensure they went into their meetings confidently and well prepared!
On January 18, 2021, Voices partnered with Brown Virginia on their Dr. King Day of Action where advocates learned about initiatives occurring all over the state, ranging from juvenile justice to voting rights to racism as a public health crisis directly from state partners, activists, and public officials. Participants were able to join forces with over 300+ attendees on HopIn!
Following, the Dr. King Day of Action, cohort members participated in an event hosted by Voices Racial Truth & Reconciliation VA campaign in partnership with The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, The Library of Virginia, The American Civil War Museum, The Valentine, and Initiatives of Change. The artists from our cohort were able to advocate in a different way through a virtual performance, which included poetry, sketch art, graphic illustration, spoken word, and more. Panelists from each educational entity addressed topics on the importance of retelling history, inclusivity in art, and what each of their organizations are doing to pursue journeys of reconciliation. The event was powerful with over 200+ attendees on FB Live and Zoom.
On January 25, 2021, advocates met bright and early to jumpstart the morning and attend 3-4 legislative meetings each. They advocated on behalf of issues ranging from family economic supports through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Virginia declaring racism as a public health crisis, kinship care supports and resources, funding for trauma-informed community networks through the Family & Children’s Trust Fund and more. This concluded the 2 months of preparation, trainings, and events! “It was a fantastic learning experience and this only encouraged me to want to reach out to public officials more,” said youth advocacy cohort member, Shelby Campbell.
KUDOS to our cohort members for championing policies of change #RacialTruth #TraumaInformedVA #Justice.
View the campaign policy agenda. To learn more about Voices virtual advocacy this session, read this article on VPM.
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