Colorado’s children officially gained a new ally last week when Generations United launched Colorado Seniors4Kids in partnership with the Colorado Children’s Campaign at a colorful event on the West Steps of the State Capitol Building.
Christine O’Connor, State Coordinator for Colorado Seniors4Kids, welcomed the crowd and introduced the initiative. Generations United’s Colorado Seniors4Kids is a grassroots initiative that will raise the voices of Coloradans age 50 and older in support of policies and programs that help children thrive. “A statewide network of grassroots volunteers, called Captain4Kids, will work to increase investments in quality early care, education, and health care. The initiative will expand awareness about the need to protect vulnerable children in a fragile economy and educate Coloradans about the powerful role older adults can play in advocating for youth.”
Chris Watney, president and CEO of Colorado Children’s Campaign spoke next. “We are delighted to welcome Colorado Seniors4Kids as partner in our ongoing efforts to ensure stronger, healthier futures for our children. Watney remarked, “By mobilizing older Coloradans to serve as advocates, Colorado Seniors4Kids will add a powerful voice and a new perspective to our work on behalf of kids. It also sends the powerful message that we can both take care of our seniors and provide opportunities for our children, even in tough times. That’s what Coloradans do, and we welcome your voice in this conversation.”
Donna Butts, executive director of Generations United, talked about how intergenerational advocacy can cultivate the seeds of changed and thanked Coloradans already involved in intergenerational work around the state through wonderful intergenerational programs like Bessie’s Hope, Foster Grandparents, Circle of Care, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren. “May is Older Americans Month, a time to celebrate the wonderful contributions of older adults. Older adults care deeply about children and support investments in future generations. That’s why they have come here today- and why they will be such a potent ally for children.”
Doug Price, president and CEO of Rocky Mountain PBS, served as the event’s keynote speaker. “Early childhood isn’t an issue of emotion, it’s an economic imperative. Whether you follow your heart or feed your wallet the destination is the same. Making sure all children get a great start in life protects both the economic vitality of the country and feeds its civic fabric.”
Following Price’s address, preschoolers, their teachers, and grandparents from Mile High Montessori Early Learning Centers’ Northeast center joined with older adults to plant roots and shoots in planters decorated with the children’s handprints and names. The Mile High Montessori Early Learning Centers provide quality early childhood education to Denver’s most vulnerable children to prepare them for school, serving over 425 low income children ages 6 weeks to 5 years and their families by supporting cognitive, emotional, physical, and social development.
As a token of appreciation to our wonderful new preschool friends, Generations United donated several books that feature strong connections between older adults and young children to Mile High and hope they help to nurture a lifetime love of reading.
Generations United would like to thank our Colorado Captains4Kids, the Colorado Children’s Campaign, the Mile High Montessori Early Learning Centers, Doug Price, our fellow intergenerational colleague organizations who came to the event, and the many senior and children’s groups from Colorado who really helped us bloom a nice crowd.
So What's Next For Colorado?
As former U.S. Congresswoman Pat Schroeder and Dr. Mary Catherine Bateson noted in an opinion printed in last Sunday’s edition of the Denver Post, now is the time to contribute your perspectives and experiences.
The end of Colorado's legislative session this week coincides with the beginning of Older Americans month. We urge older Coloradans to use the month named in their honor to gear up for greater social activism on behalf of children.
Today (or any day throughout this month), please take a few minutes to email or call your legislator.
Direct them to the op-ed and let them know:
- As a Boomer or older Coloradan, you care deeply about children and growing a strong future for Colorado.
- You appreciate their efforts to prevent additional cuts to children's programs this legislative session.
- Next session, Colorado must increase investments that improve children's access to quality health care, education and early learning experiences. When our children have the basic health care they need, a good education, and quality early childhood experiences, all generations reap the dividends of their success.
To join Generations United’s Seniors4Kids in support of policies that help children thrive or for more information about us, visit www.seniors4kids.org.
Photos courtesy of J. Evans.
-Anne Tria Wise