The chanting of “NO IFS!, NO BUTS!, NO EDUCATION CUTS!” could be heard for blocks along Hempstead Turnpike this past Thursday, Oct. 4, by those who happened to witness the unusual site.
Hofstra was lucky enough to be able to host the rally for the Step Up for Kids organization, which included speeches by concerned citizens and activists and the first of many steps towards our future.
Assembling in the Hagedorn parking lot and led enthusiastically by the man with the megaphone and fellow volunteer, Spencer Federicks, a group of more than 100 individuals including a group of about 20 children under the age of 10 marched through Hempstead, taking a literal “Step Up for Kids.”
Shanequa “Shea” Levin, Campaign Director for Step up for Kids, a national non-profit organization dedicated to representing America’s children in the upcoming elections and debates, has been working for months arranging this rally in order to address a question that seems to have slipped the presidential candidates’ minds: What about the kids?
This question relates not only to the numerous children without a chance for proper healthcare or education, but also to the future of America. After speaking with Michael Petit, the president of the organization, the importance of each voter became much more clear in relation to the upcoming presidential debates and ultimately, the election. For student voters and those who find little motivation in helping to determine the next President of the United States, this question may inspire you to make a vote that will change children’s lives.
Fellow sophomore at Hofstra, Ani Ferlise, couldn’t contain her excitement in regards to the impact she believed she was a part of creating on this day. “These children are our future America. We need to focus and turn more energy on them so they can make the changes necessary for our country to grow and create a better future. These lives are going to shape our country not too long from now, so we must focus on shaping their minds to create good.”
Levin and the organization also want to focus on hearing more from Mitt Romney or President Obama about their plans for America’s children after the election. These plans should include how the one out of six children who do not have enough to eat on any given day will obtain food, and how we will improve early learning for those children ages 0-5. Following the first Presidential Debate these issues remained up in the air as it was ignored almost entirely on both sides.
Levin said that following the debate, the children, and those who continue to fight for them were left hopeless.
It didn’t slip the mind of Carol A. Gordon, a candidate running for New York State’s 8th Senate District. Gordon was present at the march on Thursday and took part in it as well. It was inspiring for those at the march to see a political candidate, even at the state level, chanting along with residents of Long Island for such a worthy cause.
In his speech, Petit reiterates the importance of each vote stating, “Hofstra’s student voters involvement in the election, their voting, can improve the lives of children.”
First-time voters can have a substantial role in the outcome of this election. With their votes they are able to provide a voice, and a choice, for those who have none. If students “sit on their hands,” as Petit put it, “while we have an obligation to people who cannot represent themselves, there will be no one to represent the children.”.
If other individuals share my problem, then they are also curious about where to obtain information in order to make an educated vote. Many new voters may simply go by what their parents believe is the right choice, while others vote simply based on what they hear from their peers.
Levin and Petit agree that you must do your research before you arrive at the polls on Election Day. This country needs informed voters to be the ones who speak for the children if the candidates themselves will not, so go to each candidate’s webpages, watch the debates and decide for yourself who will represent you and what you believe in if he is elected.