Who would have thought kids ages 6 – 16 would want to take on Capitol Hill? Well, this is exactly what a dozen young junior advocates, 10 boys and 2 girls, did last March during the 10th Call-On Congress. All of them found their voices, shared their stories, feelings, and opinions not only with each other, but with their legislators.
As the kids were getting to know one another a common theme started to appear.
Each of these special kids had been touched by colorectal cancer; they all had a relative who had been diagnosed with this very disease. Some of them had even lost their loved ones. However, most continue to live with a parent who is still coping with the aftermath of their diagnosis.
For many of our junior advocates, this was their first time meeting other kids who have experienced similar types of situations. It was amazing to see as these young people experienced a sense of relief as stories were told regarding their connection to colorectal cancer. It was cathartic for them to realize that they weren’t the only ones who were scared, mad, or worried.
Several shared their feelings for the very first time. Many of them hadn’t even talked to their parent about how they felt living with this disease had impacted them. Some didn’t want to burden their parent, some had just never vocalized their feelings and some had simply never been asked how they felt. Parents were surprised at how expressive their children could be.
The Goal for the Kids
The goal for the kids was to tell their stories, share their feelings and experiences. Over a day and a half, junior advocates participated in sharing, art projects, playing silly games, role playing. These activities created a cohesive and dynamic group of young advocates, and it’s amazing to think about.
Kids were also able to talk about how research, chemo drugs and other types of treatment were important to them. For some, if it wasn’t for certain drugs, treatments or research they wouldn’t still have their loved one. For others, new research or treatments would have prolonged the life of their loved one.
After the junior advocates left our small, but cozy room for training, they left as strong, vocal and willing to express their opinions with legislators. It is sometimes with the smallest of voices compassion grows, and change happens!
Get your kids involved
Colorectal cancer doesn’t just impact the patient, it affects the entire family. Explore Fight CRC’s resources for children and the junior advocates program at Call-on Congress. You can also visit Camp Kesem or Hospice Net for more information on programs for your family.