Your Voice, Their Future: Child Health Advocates Convene at the Inaugural Pizzigati Training Institute
How can child advocates influence public policy that can genuinely improve the lives of low-income children and families? The Your Voice, Their Future Karabelle Pizzigati Advocacy Training Institute brought together people working in a range of social service organizations with policy and communications experts to build capacity for effective advocacy for children, youth and families.
The institute was held for the first time this September and featured three days of learning and sharing through presentations and interactive workshops by nationally recognized advocates. The 18 professionals in the field, hailing from four different states and the District of Columbia, working in diverse areas such as food banks, child welfare, early childhood, mental health and juvenile justice, attended this year’s three-day retreat.
The Institute was organized under the auspices of the Karabelle Pizzigati Initiative in Advocacy for Children, Youth and Families, which was created in honor of Dr. Karabelle Pizzigati, a lifelong champion for public policies that impact child welfare and development. Dr. Pizzigati died in 2015 after a two-year battle with cancer. Her husband Sam Pizzigati, a journalist and author who writes about labor issues, created an endowed professorship, which is held by Clincal Professor Adele Robinson as a joint appointment in the School of Public Health and School of Public Policy.
In this role, Robinson organizes the training insitute among other research and professional development activities focused on building capacity to make concrete improvements in the health and well-being of children, youth and families. She also teaches UMD students how to have an impact on child and family policy.
The training institute takes a unique approach by bringing together people in different sectors and different states focused on change at the federal level where many of the programs and funding originates to reduce disparities.
During the institute, students learned how to frame and get out their message, how to hold effective meetings with lawmakers, how to utilize data in storytelling and testimony, and other advocacy strategies.
Robinson, who is nationally recognized leader in comprehensive education policy from early childhood through higher education says, “We were thrilled with the expertise and energy at the institute.”
“We will continue to support this cohort to use and expand their connections and share their learnings from advocacy successes and near-successes,” she added. “We are excited to start planning for the next institute in 2019."