Tuesday, October 7, 2003

First Lady's Summit Brings Our Children To Forefront

First Lady Mary Perdue has long been known for her commitment to children. On August 27, 2003 she cemented that commitment with the First Lady's Summit On Our Children, a statewide event anchored in Atlanta and held simultaneously at seven regional sites. The Summit was designed to bring attention to the plight of the state's abused and neglected children and to launch the Our Children Campaign, the First Lady's effort energize community resources on behalf of Georgia's children. In addition to the Atlanta site, concerned citizens were able to participate in the Summit from the following satellite locations:

* Augusta
* Toccoa
* Macon
* Tifton
* Dalton
* Columbus
* Savannah

The day began with a welcome by Georgia Public Broadcasting's Executive Director James Lyle and was followed by remarks from Deb Smith-Callahan of Pfizer, Our Children Campaign Steering Committee Chairperson. First Lady Mary Perdue then welcomed participants and spoke about her recent research into the area of child abuse and neglect in Georgia as well as her vision for the Campaign's future. Governor Sonny Perdue also joined the presentation to lend his support to the Campaign and to share many of the efforts he is making to improve child welfare in the state.

The opening session also included a passionate recounting by Shane Salter, Chief of Staff in the Washington D.C. Deputy Mayor's Office and a former foster-child. Other speakers included IBM's Ann Cramer, who shared the importance of corporate support for initiatives such as the Our Children Campaign, and Bishop Harold Dawson of One Church, One Child, who delineated the role the church can play in the important work of child advocacy.

After the morning session, the Summit broke into workshops that focused on four key areas:

* Prevention
* Courts
* Foster/Adoptive Parents
* Housing & Services

Summit attendees were able to attend an two of these workshops, which featured moderators who are experts in the various fields that impact child welfare. The day drew to a close with a final meeting of the full group, where Mrs. Perdue received feedback from each of the regional sites and shared her vision for the Our Children Campaign. Mrs. Perdue challenged all of the participants in the Summit to get involved, saying, "These are my children. These are your children. These are our children."

To learn more about the First Lady's Our Children Campaign or how you can become involved in the work of child welfare, call toll free at (866) 786-6661 or visit the web at www.gov.state.ga.us and click on First Lady's Our Children Campaign.