From the Mouth of a Babe: A 7-year-old Asks Leaders to Prioritize Kids

Child Rights
Children of Immigrants
Early Childhood
Federal Budget
Poverty & Family Economics

So often, children have no one to speak on their behalf. It’s one of the biggest reasons why First Focus and First Focus Campaign for Children exist – to give them a voice on issues that impact them so greatly. But last night, one child spoke up on behalf of himself, his family and kids everywhere. Toby, “almost” eight years old, had some poignant feedback for  Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) last night at a town hall meeting in Springdale, Arkansas.

The Springdale High School auditorium was packed people who stayed for an extra thirty minutes of questions. Yet Toby’s comments quickly “stole the show” (CNN) becoming one of the most talked about moments of the night, and inspiring the hashtag #Toby4President.

Here’s what he had to say:

“Donald Trump thinks the wall is more important than kids’ games and stuff. But to kids it’s more important. Donald Trump makes Mexicans not important to people who are in Arkansas who like Mexicans –like me, my grandma, and all my family.”

“And he’s deleting all the parks and PBS kids just to make a wall –he shouldn’t do that. He shouldn’t, he shouldn’t do all that stuff just for a wall.”

Toby has the right idea: federally-funded programs like public broadcasting and parks are especially important for kids. These programs are available to even the poorest families, giving all children access to resources they need to learn, grow, and thrive. “People like parks. People like PBS Kids,” Toby told KATV after the event.

Toby also pointed out that the Mexicans affected by Trump’s immigration policies are important to Americans. Undocumented immigrants are the neighbors, classmates, and family members of U.S. citizen children. In 2014, 5.7 million children with U.S. citizenship lived with an undocumented family member (usually their parents). Fear of losing a parent to deportation hinders children’s health, education, and development. Witnessing an Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid in their home can cause lasting trauma.

As Toby was speaking he frequently paused for cheers from the crowd–some of whom gave him a standing ovation. We cheer on Toby on for speaking up and reminding us all to keep our priorities focused on kids.

Want to take action like Toby? Consider some ways to get involved on behalf of kids: