July 20, 2023
|Kelly Vyzral, Senior Health Policy Associate
|Alison Paxson, Senior Policy Associate
Ohio Students Raise their Voices Urging State Leaders to Protect Children, Not Guns
Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools® scholars will gather at Ohio Statehouse to advocate for health, hope, and healing of children and youth affected by gun violence
COLUMBUS — On Friday, July 21st, Ohio students participating in the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools® program will gather at the Ohio Statehouse to call on state leaders to protect children from gun violence as part of a National Day of Social Action.
“The National Day of Social Action is an opportunity for the young scholars to see the Ohio Statehouse, the People’s House, and raise their voices on an issue that far too many have been affected by in their daily lives,” says Jake Streeter, site coordinator for the East Cleveland Neighborhood Center School® site. “I am proud that when our scholars go back to school this year, they can tell their peers they took a stand to protect children, not guns at our state capitol.”
Now celebrating its 30th year, the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools® program provides summer and after-school enrichment through a research-based and multicultural program model that supports K-12 scholars and their families through five essential components: high quality academic and character-building enrichment; parent and family involvement; civic engagement and social action; intergenerational servant leadership development; and nutrition, health and mental health. Each year CDF Freedom Schools communities participate in the National Day of Social Action (NDSA) project – a collective organizing effort which, this year, will focus on the issue of gun violence and the impact that it has on our children and youth’s sense of safety within their communities as well as their visions for the future.
Gun violence remains the number one cause of death for children ages 1-19 in the United States, with the gun death rate for children at almost 5 in every 100,000 in 2020. In no other comparable country are firearms within even the top four causes of mortality among children. In fact, in 2021, 4,739 children and teens were killed with guns, and half of all child and teen gun deaths occurred in just 10 states, including Ohio, as well as Texas, California, Illinois, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and Missouri.
“Gun violence financial costs to our country is $557 billion annually, with human loss at an estimated 327 people wounded or killed by gun violence every day! I believe that creating common sense gun laws are not only pertinent to ensuring the safety of Ohioans but it’s what a majority of Ohioans want,” said Senator Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) in a statement. “We must work together to find sensible solutions to gun violence. Inaction leads this crisis to become even more expensive over time, while we cannot put a price on the lives lost, with pro-active policies, our state could instead dedicate valuable resources to invest in growing healthy communities in Ohio.”
On Friday, Senator Antonio is one lawmaker who will be sitting down with Freedom Schools® scholars and their site coordinators to listen to their concerns and what they envision for Ohio’s future. The students’ letters and artwork calling for an end to gun violence will be displayed in several state offices.
About Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio
The Children’s Defense Fund Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.
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