Are You an Advocate?

[NYPT Summer 2016]

By Lucille Vitale, Legislation Coordinator

Being an advocate can mean different things to different people. You may not even know you are advocating when, in fact, you are!

There are so many ways you can be an advocate. But what exactly is an advocate?

advocate – noun ad•vo•cate \ ˈad-və-kət , -ˌkāt \ definition:
1: one who pleads the cause of another; specifically : one who pleads the cause of another before a tribunal or judicial court
2: one who defends or maintains a cause or proposal/ an advocate of liberal arts education
3: one who supports or promotes the interests of a cause or group / a consumer advocate / an advocate for women’s health

Here are some questions to think about:

  • Have you ever gone to a parent teacher conference and engaged with a teacher regarding a child?
  • Have you ever attended a PTA meeting and have spoken out about any issue regarding children?
  • Have you ever been to a Board of Education meeting and brought back information to your school?
  • Have you ever been involved in a PARP or Reflections program or brought a program to a school that was educational for children?
  • Have you ever spoken to your legislator regarding any issue or change needed that affects children?
  • Have you ever attended a PTA conference or workshop and then used what you learned to help children?

Did you answer yes to any of these questions? These are just some of the ways you can advocate for children, but there are so many more examples.

PTA is the oldest and largest child advocacy organization in our state and country. Just over the last few years, NYS PTA has advocated for many issues including lead free water in schools, banning e-cigarettes on school grounds, supporting the student LGBTQ community, and providing information and help to students and their families regarding the current opioid epidemic….just to name a few. Every year in November at Convention, we show how we put our advocacy into action. This is where delegates from across the state participate in the voting process to pave the way for positions we take and what NYS PTA advocates for. To see all the positions of NYS PTA, read Where We Stand. We also hold a yearly Legislative Summit in Albany where we advocate in the state capital regarding various important issues. National PTA hosts a yearly Legislation Conference in Washington DC, where advocates from all across the country speak to legislators on crucial issues regarding our children. Please look at this calendar of advocacy events to help you plan your own personal advocacy calendar for the year.

If you have questions or concerns regarding advocacy and legislative matters, please contact me at legislation@nyspta.org.

And to answer the question in the title of this article, Are You An Advocate?…. I can surely bet if you are reading this, or answered yes to any of the questions above, then you are one!