What is Advocacy?
Advocacy is simply expressing your interest in a specific cause and taking action to support that cause.
What is Bell PTSA advocating for this year?
Bell PTSA is currently working to ensure we have a playground that is ADA compliant and inclusive to children of all abilities (Bell's playground currently does not meet ADA standards and is not an inclusive play area). We recently had a student at Bell in a wheelchair who was unable to play with the other children, as she could not access the play area - this is simply unacceptable! We have worked with the principal, district leaders, and the LWSD School Board to push for this shift: to create inclusive and equitable play areas, not only at Bell, but district-wide. We have made some great progress and are thrilled to have the district on board. We are hoping to have the playground updated by summer 2021, but there is still much work to do and funding sources need to be secured in order to scale this work to a district-wide level (e.g., a new levy on the ballot, reassessing the current budget for the district, etc).
We also reached out to Kirkland City Council to request that they reassess their plans for the Juanita Beach Park play areas (and all parks being developed in the city of Kirkland). The city's response to our request is admirable! The city reworked the plans for Juanita Beach Park with an accessible play surface (as opposed to wood chips) and multiple play structures for children of all abilities (the new play area opened in December 2020!). The city is currently working on an all-inclusive park in Totem Lake! It's amazing the type of impact we can have when we advocate for our children!
In addition to the work above, we are also working to ensure all students at Bell have functioning laptops. Bell PTSA spoke at a recent LWSD School Board meeting and reached out to the district about the sub-par laptops provided to many Bell students (many are 5+ years old). The school board and district listened to our concerns and has assured us that new devices will be provided in January 2021 (students with the oldest HP models and slowest processing times will be offered a new computer).
In addition to the advocacy work we are doing at the school and district level, we are also working at the state level with our legislators to make policy and legislative changes that will support WSPTA's top five legislative priorities.
How can I get involved?
- Washington State's Legislative Session starts on January 11, 2021. During a typical year, we would head to Olympia and meet with our legislators face-to-face during the legislative session. This year, all the work will be done virtually via the Focus on Advocacy Program. This is an opportunity for all community members to take action from their home via phone or computer. For those of you who are new to advocacy work, this is a wonderful way to get started. It really is as simple as contacting your legislators and sharing your story. What are you concerned about and why? What do you want to ask your legislators to do? To participate, subscribe to the WSPTA Action Network. These action alerts are quick, easy ways to communicate with your legislators on topics they are actively working on that correspond with the legislative priorities of the WSPTA.
- Join the WSPTA Action Network Group - These action alerts are quick, easy ways to communicate with your legislators on topics they are actively working on.
- Find State Legislators – Look up your Washington State Legislators and share what is important to you.
Attend WSPTA Legislative Assembly – learn about the issues, how you can take action and network with other PTA leaders (Oct 24-25, 2020)
If you see an injustice or are passionate about an issue, speak up. Democracy works best when citizens are engaged and involved in their communities.