Liberty LEADS Goes to Advocacy DayPosted by Alyssa Lyons on March 07, 2014
On February 11th, two Liberty LEADS staff members and four Liberty students trekked to Albany to partake in Advocacy Day. The annual event introduces students to the importance of championing for educational opportunity programs, such as Liberty LEADS, that help students realize and reach their academic potential regardless of their life circumstances.
As the 9th and 10th grade academic advisor, I found Advocacy Day to be the perfect opportunity to expose the students to the New York State legislative process while we explored the significance of advocacy and educational activism. To fulfill this quest, we visited the offices New York State representatives Senator Bill Perkins, Senator Adriano Espaillat, and Assemblyman Daniel O’ Donnell. Once in the elected official’s office, we spoke to either a staff member or intern who asked our students about their experiences in the Liberty program. Through this exchange, our students realized that their narratives could be just as powerful as statistics. Overwhelmed by the experience of her voice being heard, one of the students, Veronica*, tearfully remarked “Liberty is a space where I feel I can belong and grow.”
The day culminated with taking our students into the assembly chamber, where the students witnessed the hearing and passage of a bill that would soon become New York State law. It was an opportunity to breathe life into what our students had only read in textbooks-the process of passing legislation and making policy that would affect New York State residents.
* Names have been changed