Oct. 11, 2007 – Recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey show that 22 percent of rural children are living in poverty, up from 19 percent in 2000. In Utah, child poverty is up 1.4 percent, rising from 13.4 in 2000 to 14.8.
To combat these statistics, Dr. Jennifer Bauman, associate professor of undergraduate studies at the University of Utah, has organized Child Poverty Awareness Week, which will run Oct. 15-20 on the University of Utah campus. The week-long event, sponsored by the Learning, Engagement, Achievement and Progress (LEAP) program, is the first of its kind at the U and will offer a series of activities aimed at not only raising awareness of child poverty, but at finding solutions to the problem. All events are free and open to the public.
“Child poverty is a reality in Utah, and sadly, a common one,” says Bauman, who was struck by the reality volunteering at the Neighborhood House. “Many children live on one meal a day. What is sad is that their needs and deficiencies are in all areas, not just food clothing and shelter, but in skills, time with their parents, education, as well as goals and dreams.”
Bauman has dedicated herself to the cause, working with the LEAP program and the Associated Students of the University of Utah (ASUU) to organize the week of events that she hopes will have results for Utah’s young and poor. “I always think that one day maybe one of the children saved or helped will be the one who ends up saving one of our lives, you just never know. Every life is so precious and that is why it is so important,” she says.
Throughout the week a drive for school supplies will benefit the children of the Road Home and Neighborhood House and activities to raise awareness of child poverty will be led by LEAP students on the east plaza in front of the Marriot Library. On Friday, Oct. 19 the film, “The Pursuit of Happyness” will show at the Marcia and John Price Utah Museum of Fine Arts auditorium, 410 Campus Drive, at 7 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 18 a conference titled “The ‘Urgency of Now:’ A Conference on Finding Solutions for Utah’s Children Living in Poverty” will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Fort Douglas Officer’s Club, 150 S. Fort Douglas Blvd., at the University of Utah.
The keynote address will be delivered at 9 a.m. by The Right Reverend Carolyn Tanner Irish, followed by a series of panel discussions:
- “Early Childhood Development and Poverty,” until 10:30 a.m.
- “Children’s Health and Disabilities; Tax Reform; Housing and Homelessness,” 10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
- “Health System Reform and S/CHIP; Hunger and Nutrition,” 1:30-3 p.m.
Lunch will be served from 12:15-1:30 p.m.
A special award will be presented to honor Utah’s First Lady Mary Kaye Huntsman for her commitment to the needs of Utah’s children and youth at 3:15 p.m.
Panelists Include: Natalie Gochnour, Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce; Senator Peter Knudson; Representative John Dougall; Representative Rosalind McGee; Judi Hilman, Utah Health Policy Project; Karen Crompton, Voices for Utah Children; Gina Cornia, Utahns Against Hunger; Erin Trenbeath-Murray, Salt Lake CAP Head Start; Peter Catinella, University of Utah; Marc Babitz, University of Utah; Dr. Mansoor Emam, Maliheh Free Clinic.
The conference is sponsored by the University of Utah Kepler Fund and IHC in partnership with Utah Issues.
For more information contact Jennifer Bauman at 801-585-3266 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.