Our nation was founded on many basic rights and freedoms. Through the last several hundred years, many groups have struggled for one of our most precious rights—the right to vote. They have marched; they have protested; and they have given their lives for the right to cast a ballot.
Today, many countries around the world are still fighting for this right. Yet, many Americans seem to "throw away their right to vote" by choosing not to register to vote or choosing not to case a ballot. Kids Voting Missouri is trying to turn this apathy around. We understand that today's youth are America's future.
Our goal at Kids Voting is to empower young people early in life to participate in our democracy and let their voices be heard. By participating in Kids Voting students learn about government, democracy, voting, and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. The program creates an expectation that they will become lifelong, informed voters at age 18.
Through our parent organization, Kids Voting USA, we provide wonderful classroom activities that encourage dialogue and community involvement. Kids Voting Missouri also provides an opportunity for an authentic voting experience for students in Pre-K through 12th grade. Weeks before the election, students learn about the candidates and issues and importance of registering and voting. They talk about politics, majority rule, branches and levels of government; they learn about compromise, dissent, and a representative democracy. They learn to respect other people's beliefs and views and understand that it is okay to respecfully disagree.
Then on or near Election Day, via Kids Voting USA's on-line voting system called DoubleClick Democracy, Kids Voting students have the opportunity to vote on many of the same candidates and issues as the adult voters. Kids Voting USA has always had a "trickle-up" effect, that is students teaching parents about the importance of voting.
Congratulations to the Ritenour School District for being the first Kids Voting Missouri school district to participate back in 1996. Election 2018 will signify 22 years of teaching Ritenour students about responsible citizenship. For the Clayton, Ferguson-Florissant, and University City school districts, Election 2018 will represent 20 years of participating in Kids Voting Missouri and learning the importance of civic participation.
Thank you to all of our participating school districts who have joined the program since Election 2000. Through your help and commitment, together, we have been helping students learn just how important civic participation is to the survival of our democracy and democratic principles.
Sandy Diamond, M.Ed., Kids Voting Missouri Program Coordinator, University of Missouri-St. Louis/College of Education
By participating in Kids Voting Missouri, STUDENT VOICES CAN BE HEARD!