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Niños welcome Obama with enthusiasm

By Arooj Ashraf, La Prensa Correspondent

Washington, D.C., January 18, 2009: Larger than life mascots of President Abraham Lincoln and President George Washington greeted about 2,000 families at the Children’s Inaugural Ball, held at the Historical Society of Washington, 801 K Street, NW at Mount Vernon Square, Washington, D.C.

The Ball was organized by Every Child Matters Education Fund and 40 other child advocacy groups, to allow children to partake in the inauguration celebrations with their parents and soak in the historical moment by taking photos with life-size cutout of President Barrack Hussein Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden.

The children enjoyed delicious cotton candy, hot pretzels, popcorns, puppet and magic shows and got their face painted. Most were excited about Mr. Obama’s presidency and eagerly participated in the live classroom quizzes about their new president. While many may not have understood the magnitude of the moment, they certainly felt their parent’s passion and optimism and gladly joined the Obama Mania.

“Obama is really kool,” said Justin Walker,7, from Maryland. “I like him because he is going to make our country better and cleaner by picking up trash off the ground,” he said as he stood next to the presidential cutout.

The First Daughters; Sasha, 7, and Malia Ann, 9, have also grabbed the attention of children nationwide, from their clothes, new house, and new puppy. Also they are pleasant on the eyes; “Ya, they are cute,” Justin admits, blushing slightly. It has been 30 years since the White House has housed children this young.

For Alexia Díaz-Oshia, 12, the First Daughters are the main attraction and she is following their every move. “I would tell them their dad is really awesome and they are very lucky.” Díaz said she would like the new president help create more after-school programs and is confident he will achieve anything he sets his mind to. “He is really smart and knows where he’s going,” she said.

Alexa Shelton, 5, is most excited about the First Dog, “I will be getting a little puppy too and his name will be Perry,” she said gleefully.

Mascots of Abraham Lincoln and
George Washington

Andrew Cooper, 10, had more serious issues on his mind, “I would want him to end the war like he promised and make sure the soldiers come home safely and also create more jobs so parents can take care of their kids properly.” Andrew’s uncle is serving in the military.

Bryon Perkins wanted to celebrate the occasion with his two boys, 18-months William and 3-year-old Matthew, and said Pres. Obama’s election has opened doors for his children that his generation has only dreamt about. “Our children will never know a glass ceiling,” he said, adding they can dream big, work hard; and know their race, heritage—socioeconomic background will have no barriers to the success they can achieve.

Stephanie Moore brought her daughter Ixchel Aguilar, 5, from Los Angeles to be a part of history. “She has been really excited about Obama from the very beginning,” she said. Moore was impressed by Obama’s Education plan and said there is a fundamental need for bilingual teachers, more funding for after-school programs; he wants to see changes in test-based learning. “He will do his best under the circumstances and that is really what we can ask for,” Moore said.

The Every Child Matters Education Fund (ECMEF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan organization focused on making the needs of children and youth a national political priority and promoting the adoption of smart policies for children, youth, and families—including stopping child abuse, helping working families with child care, expanding pre-school education and after-school programs, and ensuring that children receive good health care and parents were encouraged to question their state representatives and demand proactive solutions and proper investment in the future.

ECMEF’s report “Homeland Insecurity” details the need for action with daunting statistics: 8-million children in the United States are uninsured, without access to basic medical care. And three-million cases of reported abuse, while 13 million live in poverty and 14 million have inadequate supervision after school.

ECMEF President Michael R. Petit said, “Even very young kids have an enormous capacity for understanding and caring about their communities and they want to make sure that other children have food and shelter, good schools and healthcare, too. As a nation we can cultivate that sense of citizenship and cooperation in our children—and the Children’s Inaugural Ball, while celebratory and festive, is meant to help remind us all of that.”

During story time, author Charisse Carney-Nunes read aloud her book, ‘I am Barack Obama’ which also includes letters from children around the nation and their thoughts on the new president. Guests received the limited inaugural edition autographed book along with memorabilia and coloring books in their welcome packets.  

The event also featured a special history display called “President’s Helping Children” about presidential accomplishments on improving child well-being over the past century, beginning with Theodore Roosevelt’s first Conference on Children to President William Clinton’s State Children Health Insurance Program.

For more information about Every Child Matters, visit:  www.everychildmatters.org







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