Before she began her teaching career, Kifimbo Holloway-Parnell was working at a catering event for the Special Olympics. She watched several people take the time to feed dessert to one of their disabled colleagues who wasn’t able to feed himself, doing so before even eating their own. It was a turning point, she told the audience of non-profit professionals and volunteers at the 2015 NEFL Advocacy Training on November 10.
“What good is my time, my talent, my ingenuity, my money, if it wasn’t used to help someone who couldn’t help themselves?” the 2015 Duval County Teacher of the Year asked.
The advocacy workshop is held each year for child-serving agencies in the region in preparation for the state legislative session. Co-hosted each year by the Healthy Start Coalition, the Jacksonville Kids Coalition and United Way of Northeast Florida, the event welcomed two new partners this year: the Jacksonville Public Education Fund and the Jacksonville Children’s Commission.
The day kicked off with a panel of media, non-profit and legislative representatives: State Sen. Audrey Gibson, Jacksonville Children’s Commission CEO Jon Heymann, WJXT Morning Show Anchor Melanie Lawson and St. Johns Riverkeeper Outreach Director Shannon Blankinship.
Participants then attended three breakout sessions: Legislative role playing with the United Way of Northeast Florida’s Jason Roth, an issue briefing with Florida Children’s Council CEO Brittany Birken and the People’s Lobby with Kevin Cate of CATECOMM.
An additional training focused on teen advocacy was held later that afternoon. Faith Febus, the Westside High representative of the Jacksonville Association of Governing Students (JAGS) gave the keynote speech about why she is an advocate and what motivates her to make a difference.
“I am a cause and so is every other teenager,” Faith shared. She encouraged the audience to let teens know that mediocrity is not OK — that the should strive for more.
A panel followed, with discussion about communications, etiquette and preparing teens for advocacy. The panel featured TeensGotCents Founder Eva Baker, the United Way of Northeast Florida’s Angela Mack and the Jacksonville Children’s Commission’s Kristin Murray.