Advocates all have a story or defining moment that propelled us into action. Like most, my Start School Later advocacy began when my child entered high school. And like many, I questioned if I was the right person to lead a local chapter. Who was I? Nothing but "just a mom".
I was angered as the school district described our local efforts as two disgruntled loud-mouthed moms. But after reading this book, I realize that label is one I should embrace.
There is a saying that if you want to ensure something gets done, just ask a busy mom to do it.
Moms are motivated by our love of children, not power. And we are experts on issues affecting children and families, regardless of our education or training.
As moms, we are often friends with other moms because our children share a common activity. Or maybe we are neighbors or co-workers. But working with folks who share similar values provides a deep connection. A sense of empowerment begins to take the place of our self-doubt. It didn’t take long after becoming involved with Start School Later that I realized advocating for children health and safety provided a connection that I had not experienced before.
...as our knowledge into the research grows, we become experts on adolescent sleep in our own right, regardless of our background. That knowledge propels one to grow personally as a public speaker whether addressing a school board, speaking to the media, or providing legislative testimony.
In my previous role as the SSL national chapter director, prospective chapter leaders often voiced a similar concern. They wanted to advocate as concerned moms, behind the scenes, without officially affiliating themselves with Start School Later. They didn’t want the district to know who was leading the charge to return to healthy hours!
Choosing this route robs an advocate of a support system with others across the nation that comes from being part of a larger organization. As a chapter leader, one learns how to navigate the tough questions while receiving guidance and resources. Start School Later provides a foundation to healthy hours advocacy so advocates can avoid re-creating the wheel in each and every district. This foundation provided the platform for the recent legislative and historical success in California.
One learns how to navigate the tough questions while receiving guidance and resources as a chapter leader. Start School Later provides a foundation to healthy hours advocacy so advocates can avoid re-creating the wheel in each and every district.
Some are successful in affecting local change, other are not. But every email, letter, or presentation contributes to an awareness of the importance of setting school hours conducive to children’s needs. It is a long journey: a marathon, not a sprint. Truth is on our side.
So take up the mantle, lead the charge, and embrace your motherhood advocacy!
Debbie Owensby Moore currently leads Start School Later Texas and for many years served as Start School Later's National Chapter Director. Follow her on Twitter at @DebbieOMoore.