A campaign aimed at improving communities and ending child poverty in West Virginia is holding regional workshops across the state.
The Our Children, Our Future Campaign's goal is to identify and promote state policy opportunities at a local level which will improve communities and then achieve policy victories at the state capital.
The workshops, hosted by the West Virginia Community Development Hub, the West Virginia Center for Budget Policy and the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, encourages citizens to get involved.
"They provide an entry point for people in an area close to their community where they can get engaged in statewide policy work," Stephanie Tyree, Director of Community Engagement and Policy with the Hub said.
The group hopes, with more participation from around the state, the better the policy will be.
"We think that the people across the state have a lot of expertise that politicians need to hear," Tyree said. "We need to be working together, strategically, to make use of that expertise and make the change we want to see."
The leaders of the event do not tell the community what policy they should be advocating for. Rather, it is the community which provides input on the proposed policy.
"We have community groups propose the issues that they're interested in and that they want to lead to us," Tyree said. "We give them a space to work on those issue and build a team during those workshops."
The first workshop was held for the southern region on July 17 in Lewisburg. On Tuesday, the workshop for the northern region was held at the Gaston Caperton Center in Clarksburg. Roughly 150 people attended the first two workshops and an average of 150 attendees is expected for the remaining two workshops.
"We've got 23 issues that were proposed this year, last year we had about 15 that were proposed, we have more this year and they really run the gamut," Tyree said. "For the policy workshops, we split them up, kind of, equally between the workshops."
At Tuesday's workshop, there were eight issues addressed by the northern region. Among them were work place bullying, in-home visiting expansion and a solar panel installation pilot program.
Two more workshops remains. One will be held for the central region on Thursday at St. Timothy in the Valley located in Hurricane and the final workshop for the eastern region will be held on July 29 at the Blue Ridge Community and Technical Center in Martinsburg.
After the workshops are over, the issues will be narrowed down and voted on before presenting the top issues to state legislatures before the beginning of the session in January.
While registration is closed for the remaining two workshops, Tyree said they will welcome walk-ups.
For more information, Tyree can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.