Photo credit: Aster Sanchez @allstarjpg and Catherine Rodriguez @catherinephotosla / Las Fotos Project
by Mayra E. Alvarez, President of The Children’s Partnership
In 1993, I was entering junior high. I was nervous, eager and looking forward to a new school. I still called my friends using a landline, and had yet to use the internet for any homework assignment. At the same time, The Children’s Partnership founders, Wendy Lazarus and Laurie Lipper, knew what was coming. They were working to ensure that the Internet–the “Information Superhighway” as it was then known–and the power that comes with it, was accessible to all children.
It has been 30 years. I have grown up and The Children’s Partnership has, too. Earlier this month, I joined friends, colleagues, mentors, and community members to celebrate TCP’s 30th anniversary. I am fortunate to have served as TCP’s president for almost eight years.
From its inception, The Children’s Partnership has challenged inequalities and striven for a more equitable future for all children. We believe in healthy children, strong families and welcoming communities. Our commitment to racial justice has fueled our drive to create change that goes beyond statistics, ensuring that every child is seen, valued, and provided with the opportunities to thrive, regardless of their background.
The history of The Children’s Partnership is grounded in identifying emerging issues that impact children. As we kicked off our For Our Children’s Future: 30th Anniversary Speaker Series in October, we did just that. Alongside my friend, acclaimed author and activist Edgar Villanueva, we invited our community into a conversation about ensuring that our state and national policies center children’s health equity.
We believe that children deserve the freedom to be themselves, and to learn the truth of our past in order to understand our present and create a better future. However, across the country, we spoke to the disturbing trend of policies and narratives at work: Book bans. Eroding child labor laws. Stripping the rights of trans children and families parenting trans kids. Attempts to erase our history–especially the innovations and struggles of people of color in this country. At the 30th anniversary kick off, Edgar and I discussed how these attacks on our children are harming their safety, mental health and education. This is particularly true for children from Black, Indigenous, Pacific Islander, Asian American, and Latinx families, children with mixed-race backgrounds, children from immigrant communities, LGBTQ+ children and children who live in poverty. Effectively, these attacks are hurting growth and opportunity for millions of children.
Many may deride these attacks as “culture wars,” but they are questions that speak to the core of who we are–as leaders, as parents, and as community members. More importantly, where we fall on these issues speaks to who we want to be. Through our conversation, and most importantly through the partnerships TCP has created with organizations and community members across the state and country, we recognize that these divisions are created by humans and can be solved by all of us. We are unequivocal in our capacity to make California better for our children.
The achievements of The Children’s Partnership wouldn’t have been possible without a community of passionate advocates like you. As we move forward, let us remember that our contributions matter, no matter how big or small.
Left: Founding, outgoing TCP board member Shari Davis takes in her new, original artwork by Anaís Orozco (@NocheDivina). Right: Edgar Villanueva, acclaimed activist and author, displays his book “Decolonizing Wealth.” Photo credit: Aster Sanchez @allstarjpg and Catherine Rodriguez @catherinephotosla / Las Fotos Project
Sharing knowledge, engaging in conversations, supporting local initiatives, and advocating for policy change are tangible ways to contribute to a healthy, happy and equitable future for our children.
The kick off to The Children’s Partnership’s 30th anniversary was a reminder of the immense power of our collective advocacy. The night was a beautiful testament to the spirit of our organization and the incredible individuals who have championed this cause. I am so grateful to current and former TCP staff who have educated me, inspired me and pushed me to be a better leader, partner and advocate. I am also grateful to our beautiful community of families, partners and policymakers.
Let us carry the spirit of this milestone event with us, using it as fuel to propel us forward as we work towards a future full of healthy children, strong families and welcoming communities. Together, we can make a lasting impact on child health equity and create a world full of hope for generations to come.
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