The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) had the pleasure of holding several events last week, all centered on our mission. Even though the Legislature has adjourned, we carried on our plans to hold our annual Advocacy Day, partnering with Let’s Fix This, a grassroots organization that works to get people more involved with sharing their ideas with policymakers. Our event hosted more than two dozen advocates who were there to learn about how to correspond with legislators and other elected officials. These advocacy skills are critical, especially in the new world of social media. The attendees all walked away with a better understanding of the process and an ability to more effectively present their ideas and leverage their own expertise with lawmakers. This will not be the last of these training sessions this year, so I encourage you to check out oica.org for upcoming events.
OICA also hosted the first of our 35th Anniversary celebrations with a luncheon at the Governor’s Mansion Pavilion. We were honored to hear from Governor Mary Fallin, Health & Human Services Cabinet Secretary Steven Buck, and Kid Governor Audrey Patton. We also heard from Laura Choate, an OICA board member and plaintiff in the Terry D. Lawsuit, the case which exposed widespread abuse within the foster care system and ultimately led to the creation of OICA. The speeches were all upbeat and challenged the lunch-goers to engage more in policy and let their voices be heard. The event tied in perfectly with our training and we greatly appreciate Governor Fallin designating Wednesday, May 9 designated as OICA Child Advocacy Day for the State of Oklahoma (click here to view the proclamation). We will have several other events later in the year, so please join us for one of the celebrations!
We finished off the week with a very special occasion: the annual Flux Party. This event, taken over by OICA this year, recognizes the Oklahoma youth who will either graduate from high school or receive their GED. We were honored to host this party, with the support of LeNorman Properties, Youth Villages and Bama Companies. This event allowed these young graduates the chance to celebrate their successes and receive recognition. The Oklahoma Department of Human Services invited the graduates and OICA partnered with them to have a dinner, music, a graduation ceremony and a graduation gift for each student. For some, this might be the only graduation party they receive as they prepare to age out of the system and enter life following school.
Over the past year, OICA has redirected much of our direct service to supporting foster youth, with this party and OK Foster Wishes. We are very happy that we have been able to work with the many partners to see this endeavor be successful. If you would like to be a part of one of these programs, please reach out to us at (405) 236-5437 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. We are a statewide program, so we are looking for Oklahomans from every part of the state to join with us for the children who need that extra help!