The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Lifestyle

January 13, 2014

Athens native named executive director of VOICES for Alabama’s Children

(Continued)

ATHENS —

Top priorities

Though VOICES for Alabama’s Children monitors all legislation impacting children, Bridgeforth already has a list of VOICES top priorities in the upcoming legislative session.

A child’s readiness for school is one of those priorities.

“Getting off to a great start in the early years makes a keen difference in how children succeed in school and in life,” Bridgeforth said. “Research shows that high-quality pre-K programs have a huge impact on a child’s readiness for school.” VOICES for Alabama’s Children will continue advocacy to increase state investments in first class pre-K by $12.8 million, according to Bridgeforth. “Pre-K works and we will continue urging the Alabama Legislature to invest wisely by investing in our children,” she said.

Bridgeforth also plans to address the unhealthy weight of children in the state.

“Unhealthy weight for children is a growing problem in our country and especially in the Southeastern states, including Alabama,” Bridgeforth said. “Roughly 35 percent of Alabama’s children are considered either overweight or obese, conditions putting them at increased risk for what were traditionally thought of as adult diseases.”

Bridgeforth said improved child nutrition and consumption of healthy foods could help reverse the devastating trend among children. “The simple truth is many Alabama families are unable to access such foods. This issue will be new to VOICES for Alabama’s Children’s policy agenda, but we are eager to begin educating Alabama decision makers on the policy option to increase supermarket and healthy food retail access in underserved rural and urban communities throughout our state.”

With 2014 being an election year, Bridgeforth encourages residents across the state, Limestone County and Athens alike to ask elected officials and candidates from the area one simple question, “Is it good for kids?”

Bridgeforth said challenge them and hold them accountable to ensure the decisions they make moving forward and the priorities they set are good for Alabama’s children.

“I am humbled and overjoyed to be back home and at the helm of an organization that has truly helped shape child advocacy as we know it in Alabama,” Bridgeforth said. “Having the opportunity to lead Alabama’s longest-standing child advocacy organization is nothing short of a dream come true. I look forward to working with our partners and decision makers to secure a better future for Alabama by investing in our most precious asset — our children.”

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