Thank you so much for this award. Voices for Utah Children has done so much for our kids. Most recently they have led the effort to ensure renewal of CHIP, the vital federal Children’s Health Insurance Program.
I’m especially grateful for this Children’s Champion award because of the connection between Utah Children and the League of Women Voters.
Utah Children was founded and directed by two powerful League members: Irene Fisher and Roz McGee. When I first joined the Salt Lake League in 1970, Irene was at my very first League unit discussion meeting. Later, her daughters babysat our two sons. Probably one reason they turned out so well. Both are teachers.
Most importantly for me, Irene and Roz became my mentors, once I discovered how fascinated I was by League action at the legislature. As Irene often said, “No legislator can respond to an unspoken need.” We need to speak up. I have to say events in our country over the past year are convincing us how right she was.
Roz of course acted tirelessly at the legislature on behalf of children’s needs, as well as voters’ rights. I spent hours tagging along as she testified in committee and met with legislators. I learned about the issues and how to lobby, and met wonderful legislators and legislative staff. (Actually, some were more wonderful than others.)
As you may know, the League of Women Voters was founded in 1920, just as women won the right to vote. But did you know the League's very first major national legislative success was passage of the Sheppard-Towner Act, providing federal aid for maternal and child care programs? We were off to a good start.
Since then, more and more issues have been added to League’s study and action list: Voting rights, health care, public education, tax policy, environmental protection, women’s rights, prison reform, and death with dignity.
The League is proud to have worked with the dedicated people at Voices for Utah Children on many of these issues, especially health care, education and wise tax policy.
We are beginning to realize that all these issues can be good for kids. How we address them affects the well being of all our children, far into the future. Former first lady Michelle Obama recently said it well: “A focus on our kids can be a bridge across political divides. We have to act on climate change because it matters what kind of world we leave to our children.”
As Irene Fisher said (and no doubt Roz McGee would agree) “No legislator can respond to an unspoken need.” Let’s all continue to speak up--to be Voices for Utah Children.