Children Rally for Health Care

This week, children across the nation will rally about a topic that actually means something to them: children's health coverage. In Galveston, over 200 youths gathered recently to ask Congress to "remember the children" when they write new health insurance legislation this summer. From the KUHF NewsLab, Melissa Galvez has more.

"Boom! Health coverage!  Your kids need health coverage and if they don't get health coverage, their lives go tick tick tick boom!..."

image of 5 year olds clap in over-sized T shirts with written messages

Cheering 12 year olds hold signs that say, "It's all about health insurance, baby".  5 year olds clap in over-sized T shirts marked, "Honk for health care" and "I want to be heard". What would prompt nearly 200 kids to be out in the heat, in front of a historic Galveston house, chanting for health care?

"I'm actually one of those students who doesn't have health care."

Imani Jackson is a 16 year old Ball High School student, whose father is a community leader in Galveston.  Sure, she and her peers may not know all the complexities of health care, but she knows it affects her life.

"With this rally, I just hope that, you know, we get universal, because my parents don't make enough to get health insurance for our family, but we make too much for Medicaid, so we're one of those families that's stuck in the middle. So, the rent is more important, unfortunately."

Jackson goes to a summer enrichment program called the Freedom Schools, which is run by the Children's Defense Fund, in partnership with local organizations.  This week, students at Freedom Schools in Houston, Galveston, and Beaumont join over 12,000 students across the nation in rallying for universal access to children's health care. 

Laura Guerra-Cardus, the interim director of the Children's Defense Fund Texas, says that Texas has the highest percentage of un-insured children.  The Defense Fund doesn't push for a particular policy option, as long as all children get access to coverage.

"In Texas this year we missed the opportunity to decrease the number of these 1.5 million uninsured children through our  Texas legislative session, and we are now turning towards national health reform to make sure that they are included, to make sure that all children have access to affordable, comprehensive, and streamlined coverage."

image of 12 year olds hold signs

13 year old Morgan Rigsby of Houston wants to be a pediatrician someday.  In the meantime, she thinks that kids have an important place in the political process:

"We want to speak out on something that's important to us, because children that don't have health insurance, they're probably around our age, and we some of us have health insurance, we don't want to be the only ones with health insurance, we want to help other people."

Before the rally, the Children's Defense Fund asked the students to find 5 adult voters who would pledge to call their congressmen about this issue.  Now they are literally making their voices heard.

"Healthy bodies, healthy minds healthy youth in action…"


From the KUHF NewsLab, I'm Melissa Galvez.