Lobbyists get a bad rap and are subject to stereotypes that frequently hide the truth. One of the most popular stereotypes is that all lobbyists are white men in suits working in the political shadows to gain favor for those who support the status quo. However, in an example that will shatter negative stereotypes about lobbyists, a 9 year old girl in Tallahassee, Florida has successfully lobbied for $1 million to be used to support visually impaired children and their families. The money is going to deal with the fact that blind children in Florida aren’t eligible for state assistance from the ages of 6-13, putting extra social and financial strain on them and their families.
Paloma Ricci is a 9 year old girl who has founded Paloma’s Dream, an organization that works to educate visually impaired people across the state of Florida. She realized that there was a massive sector of this group that was even more underserved than the others; children and their families who fell between the gaps of state assistance. She worked to push the Florida legislators into funding services that would help visually impaired children in her age group. Her efforts were a success and governor Rick Scott approved the $1 million she asked for. Not only that, but half the fund will recur, meaning that there will continue to be money to assist children in need.
While this has been a huge success for Paloma, she’s not done. Her final goal is to raise $8 million in funding so that everyone who falls into the assistance gap can have the funds they need to be able to learn and progress in their lives. The money is going to help subsidize the cost of the technology needed in the classroom as well as for communication classes run by the Department of Education’s Division of Blind Services Program. With plans to already return to the legislature next year to lobby for money, it seems as though there might be a new lobbyists to watch out for in Florida.
If you’d like to read more, the link is here.