Release Date: September 15, 2010
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- If the University at Buffalo's thriving Kids Voting Western New York Project were running for office, the polls would clearly indicate a landslide victory.
With several innovative initiatives ready to begin this fall, the program that has already engaged 400,000 Western New York students would be an uncontested re-election. Its list of accomplishments would make any career politician proud.
"We've been overwhelmed with the excitement the Kids Voting program generates amongst students and teachers," says Katie Biggie, program manager for UB's Center for Educational Collaboration, who has directed the UB Kids Voting affiliate since 2006. "This program embodies the spirit of the CEC's civic pathways program and encourages the development of strong, engaged citizens from our students."
Biggie, who recently was elected affiliate liaison to the Kids Voting USA board of directors, has reason to be enthusiastic. In just its fourth year, UB's Kids Voting Western New York not only has reached the astounding mark of 400,000 local kids who have taken part in voting experiences and special Kids Voting USA curricula, it is expanding its offerings to include the following programs:
-- UB Kids Voting Western New York has teamed up with Close Up Inc., a non-profit group designed to educate and inspire young people to become informed and engaged citizens. The group conducts one-week tours in Washington, D.C., tailored around certain themes such as "Service and Sacrifice" for high school or middle school groups. UB Kids Voting Western New York officials have written to teachers in hopes of finding students interested in the program.
-- UB Kids Voting Western New York has also developed the Community Challenge Project, a new initiative that encourages local schools to develop teams that address specific needs in that community. UB Kids Voting Western New York will offer advice and resources to help identify the best projects and how to develop those projects. UB Kids Voting Western New York will then host an event to showcase all the student projects, bring all the Community Challenge students together and highlight the influence they had on their communities.
-- Together with the Erie County Board of Elections, UB Kids Voting Western New York will host voting machine tours, taking new voting machines to schools to show students how they work.
-- UB Kids Voting Western New York has introduced a new high school curriculum that features topics such as mid-term elections, first ladies, contacting your elected official and the requirements for becoming a United State citizen.
The new projects are in addition to existing UB Kids Voting Western New York activities, which include voter registration drives held in area schools and an extensive speakers bureau that offers 18 speakers ready to meet with students.
An informational meeting will be held on Sept. 21 at 3:30 p.m. in 100 Allen Hall, UB South Campus, for those who would like more information or to register their school for UB Kids Voting Western New York. A representative from Close Up will also be available to answer questions and provide information regarding the Washington, D.C., trips.
All Kids Voting Western New York activities -- new and old -- are designed to increase student involvement, interest and knowledge in local and national elections. The UB Kids Voting Western New York program is the only local affiliate of a larger, national Kids Voting USA program. UB Kids Voting Western New York is a signature program of the Center for Educational Collaboration's Civic Pathways. Civic Pathways provides opportunities for civic engagement to help students, faculty, staff and community members become involved both locally and internationally.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.