“What Made You Feel Safe as a Kid?”: KIND Participates in Welcoming America Conference

April 23, 2024

Mary Giovagnoli is Senior Counsel for KIND’s Policy and Advocacy team and helps lead KIND’s Keeping Kids Safe Campaign. She is also a regular contributor to Ms. L Magazine 

 

One of my favorite organizations—after KIND, of course—is Welcoming America, an organization that brings people together from every walk of life who want to create more open, inclusive, and welcoming communities, not only for immigrants, but all newcomers.  Building a network of welcomers depends on the idea that deep down we all want the same things: understanding, safety, and opportunity.   

KIND’s Keeping Kids Safe campaign is a natural match for the welcoming crowd, so we were thrilled to spend time as an exhibitor at this year’s Welcoming Interactive, Welcoming America’s annual conference. We introduced the campaign to a group of folks who are eager to do more to support unaccompanied children.  

KIND drew people to our table by asking a simple question: “What made you feel safe as a kid?”  Visitors posted their answers on our display, creating a dialogue about community and safety. Family, parents, and teachers were the top responses, but we also saw mentions of sports, friendship, and a note in Arabic declaring that children are the future. “Batman,” my personal favorite, came from a 10-year-old boy.   

Occasionally, someone would decline to post a note on our board, saying that they didn’t feel safe as a child or had bad memories of childhood. That was painful, but many of them took the time to express gratitude for the work KIND does and then stayed at the table to learn more.  

The question was a useful introduction to the Keeping Kids Safe campaign, allowing us to share our vision of a re-imagined immigration system for children. We spoke to more than a hundred people about the simple principle that children are children first and asked them how our immigration system would be different if that principle guided immigration law.   

You could see people’s eyes light up as they recognized the need for this simple but groundbreaking approach. When we told them that we knew you could build bipartisan support for this idea, they really paused, amazed to hear that the children’s immigration court bill that we support has bipartisan sponsors in both the Senate and the House.   

In this highly polarized moment, the need to find common ground is more important than ever. I could tell from people’s reactions that we are onto something here, a shared belief in protecting children that can sustain and build our ten-year campaign.   

So, while having Batman’s help would be useful, I’m counting on the rest of us to keep kids safe.  

To learn more about KIND’s Keeping Kids Safe campaign, click here.   

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