Dylan Drusedum with Ken Lucero from Senator Heinrich’s office in Albuquerque.
When I received an email about applying to the annual Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) Advocacy Summit, I jumped at the opportunity and applied the same day, eager to get more involved in learning how to advocate for kids.
My involvement with SCAN started when I sent messages to my members of Congress in the summer of 2017. But in March 2018, I left sunny New Mexico and headed to a cold, rainy Washington D.C. to attend the Summit. Luckily, the energy and vibrant ideas were abundant and completely negated the less-than-ideal weather. We heard Amy Walter, the national editor of The Cook Political Report, offer her lively political forecasts, learned how to “birddog” political candidates and met with lawmakers and their staffs on Capitol Hill.
I left the Summit buzzing with excitement and anticipation of how to bring all that I had learned back to my community.
Despite my excitement, this task felt daunting, knowing that I would be heading back to Albuquerque without any on-the-ground SCAN presence or fellow advocates in the immediate vicinity. I met two other amazing New Mexican SCAN advocates at the Summit. But in a large rural state like New Mexico, we are all about two to three hours apart from one another, so organizing events together is a challenge.
Full disclosure—I am an introvert, and the thought of scheduling a meeting that is not critical to my immediate well-being gives me anxiety. However, I knew that if I wanted to challenge myself to increase SCAN’s impact in my state and advocate for a mission that I believe in, I was going to need to step up and channel my inner Capitol Hill-strutting warrior .
In the two months since I have returned home from the Summit, I have garnered local support for the “Have a Heart” and “Head Start Week of Action” campaigns, written two letters to the editor and organized in-district meetings with the offices of both of my senators. I was pretty nervous about these meetings (I mean, these are important people!), but both went better than I could have imagined. One of the staffers even connected me with contacts for local organizations advocating for a similar agenda as SCAN. I am now looking forward to scheduling additional meetings with these staffers, and building SCAN’s network, presence and impact in New Mexico.
I imagine if you are a SCAN supporter in a state without local staff on the ground, you may be in a similar boat and might not be sure where to start. My friends, fear not! You can do this! You can start as small as you feel comfortable with, whether this is writing a letter to the editor (super easy to do), coloring a few Valentines with friends or colleagues (this is fun!), or scheduling meetings with your elected officials (this is not as scary as it seems).
So here is my challenge to you: this week, take one action. Sign an online petition. Ask five people to sign their name to postcards to support early childhood education. Call your senators’ offices and schedule a meeting. I promise that the action will spark an energy that will inspire you to keep acting and using your voice to change the world, one step at a time.