OKLAHOMA CITY – With the advent of the school year, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) now turns our attention to our fall programs. Our first major task is to provide support for our main direct service program, Kid Governor, in the state’s fifth grade classrooms.
This project, run nationally by the Connecticut Democracy Project, has state affiliates work with schools and educators to provide curriculum approved by the state’s education entities that helps the students understand civics and the importance of voting. Each of the lesson plans provides a different aspect for fifth grade students to help them learn about the role of elected officials and how citizens can be a part of government.
In addition, there is a supplemental part to the program, that if educators select to provide the lessons, students learn about how campaigns and elections work by holding a mock primary election in their classroom to select a nominee to run for the office of Kid Governor in each state. For those classrooms who do this extra portion, the winner of that race will record a two-minute video detailing an issue they would like to fix in their race.
The OICA Board of Directors and five of Oklahoma’s former governors of Oklahoma (or their designees) will review the videos and select the top seven finalists. From that, OICA prepares the videos for the classrooms to watch, and the students are provided ballots that look like the ones adult voters receive. The classrooms get voting kits that include ballot boxes, stickers, and a copy of the comic book published by OICA called Mighty Mia and Dyna-Bit Save Democracy.
This comic book details the adventures of two young superheroes working at the Oklahoma State Capitol to fill in for the pages who are sick one day, and they ensure that all the jobs are done while learning about government. The comic also has educational games in the back, along with a 500-word description of state government that was deemed age appropriate by curriculum officials with the state.
If you know a fifth grade student and you feel this would be a good thing for them to learn, please reach out to the child’s teacher and encourage them to review the program at https:// ok.kidgovernor.org/. Parents can also review the curriculum on the site. We are hoping to double the number of classrooms to more than 50 this year, which would reach more than 2,000 students across the state.
Our current Kid Governor Mila O’Brien has been remarkably busy as she has traveled around the state visiting with Oklahomans about youth mental health issues and promoting her program to provide sensory tools to classrooms in need. She spoke to our gala, the OICA Heroes Ball, and she also spoke to the Rotary Club of Oklahoma City’s breakfast gathering, along with Bricktown Rotary this past Monday. She also has spoken at the State Capitol to lawmakers and a city council meeting in her hometown of Enid, along with their local Rotary Club. We are immensely proud of the effort she and her family have put into this, and we expect to see some great candidates, with one taking the oath as the next Kid Governor in February 2024.
Additionally, OICA will also hold our annual policy conference, Fall Forum, at the Oklahoma State Capitol on Nov. 8-10, with a one-day virtual session on Nov. 3. If you are interested in learning more about helping OICA shape our legislative agenda, please go to https:// www.oica.org to sign up to attend.