With 2022 being a mid-term election year, voting is a significant issue in Alabama, as it is across the country. And one group in Madison is making sure that not only those who are old enough to vote are exercising that right, but that kids also are aware of the importance of voting.
I Vote Madison is a nonprofit, nonpartisan voter engagement organization that helps residents navigate local government. This weekend, that civic focus falls to those who aren’t old enough to vote yet, as they host Kids Civic Engagement Day at Madison Public Library.
What does I Vote Madison Do, and how long have they been doing it?
So what exactly is this group and what is their mission? I Vote Madison’s mission is increasing civic engagement by providing education to residents and removing participation barriers at the community level.
Tara Bailey and Heather Morgan initially formed I Vote Madison to help local voters meet the challenges presented by Covid-19. From the beginning, they made plans to carry the organization’s work beyond election season. They initiated another group earlier in 2020 to meet the needs of families opting out of in-person school due to Covid-19. Their work within that group included reaching out to the city’s school board and the mayor. It reminded them that at the local level, political and community action makes an impact.
The group’s core values include:
- Encourage and empower citizens
- Proactively fill resource gaps
- Maintain nonpartisanship
- Promote transparency
- Foster diversity, equity, and inclusion
About Kids Civic Engagement Day
Kids Civic Engagement Day is set for Saturday, May 14 at the Madison Public Library from 11AM to 2PM. The activity is intended for children in elementary school.
This free event includes story times, hands-on activities, presentations by youth role models, book giveaways, unique photo opportunities and food trucks.
“This event marks the launch of our youth education efforts,” Morgan said. “We wanted to create a fun, educational event that would inspire and empower children to be civically involved in their community.”
Morgan said the idea for the event came together much like the organization’s efforts came together: With Bailey, and Morgan saying “Let’s do this” and jumping right in. “We aren’t experts at civic engagement, but we think our willingness to put ourselves out there and learn and grow along with others on this civic journey will serve to inspire and encourage others in the community to do so as well,” Morgan said.
“Tara and I are both moms, so encouraging our own children to be community minded and doing our part to equip them with the tools they need for future civic life is important to us. It really is a learning process. One has to not only be motivated to get involved but know how to navigate the community and political landscape.”I Vote Madison co-founder Heather Morgan
I Vote Madison has built this event around a few different children’s books that embody some aspect of civic engagement, such as using one’s voice to make a difference. There will be event activities that provide an opportunity for attendees to begin taking action.
For example, at the North Alabama Zoological Society’s booth, there will be postcards children can decorate and send that advocate on behalf of some of Alabama’s threatened or endangered animals.
“Our main goal as an organization is to foster civic engagement,” Morgan said. “This includes increasing voter turnout, an exclusive domain of adults, but there are many ways to be civically involved in one’s community—volunteering, attending community events and meetings, speaking out on issues—things that youth can do.”
Learn more about I Vote Madison and the Kids Civic Engagement Day event on the I Vote Madison website.