“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it” — Ferris Bueller, from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

The above quote, from one of my favorite movies, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” certainly can apply to the legislative session, which finally ended Friday evening. Advocates struggled to keep up with issues brought forth by lawmakers as language often is amended at the last minute.

The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy monitors legislation on children’s issues and we will work through those last-minute changes to determine which ideas were in the best interest of children and families. Soon, OICA will also develop a legislative scorecard showing how “child friendly” the votes cast by lawmakers were. The goal is to provide a report to Oklahomans on the positions on children’s issues held by current state senators and representatives.

Last week, as is often the case, our work went beyond the Oklahoma State Capitol as we work to make sure Oklahomans take note of those who are dedicated to helping children children.

To that end, OICA recently announced the winners of our advocacy awards to be presented at our Heroes Ball. This year, the ball will be held virtually on Friday, July 31. Our Individual Child Advocate of the Year is attorney Noble McIntyre. Our Group Child Advocate is the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority. The winner of our Lifetime Achievement Award is Judge Doris Fransein. And, our Lifetime Public Servant Awards will go to former First Lady Rhonda Walters and former Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee.

Each year, OICA gives Oklahomans a chance to choose an individual and an organization with our Anne Roberts People’s Choice Award. Named for Anne Roberts, the longest serving OICA executive director, this award is completely in the hands of Oklahomans to recognize champions for children by allowing you to nominate individuals and organization for the work they do to improve conditions for young people in our state.

Nominations are open at http://oica.org/awards/anne-roberts-peoples-choice-award/ and we encourage you to help us find these heroes. Once all the nominations are in, our board of directors narrows down the top choices, which will be voted on by Oklahomans on our website. Finalists are given a free ticket to our banquet as appreciation for their work, a $100 value, along with the winner receiving an award recognizing their accomplishment.

If you would like more information about the 2020 Heroes Ball, which will be broadcast from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum via the OICA Zoom, please to oica.org or follow our social media.

While you are social distancing and protecting yourself, please remember those on the front lines helping protect people, from health care professionals to public safety and emergency services workers, to those clerks working to keep grocery stores operating. Please pause and thank someone for putting his or her health at risk as they do the essential jobs on which we depend.

This week’s child-related statistic is from 2016. In that year, there were 961,628 children in Oklahoma, making up 25% of the state’s population. The sponsor of this week’s statistic is the Honorable Dan Boren, who wishes his wife, Andrea, a happy birthday!

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