Monday, January 19, 2009

Report: An Inaugural Ball for Children

Peter and Me

Banners Outside the Historical Society of DC

Charles MacCormack, head of Save the Children, wrote an op-ed in yesterday's Washington Times titled "Helping Children in Need," offering five practical steps President Obama should take to improve the lives of children worldwide. I hope MacCormack was aware of yesterday's Children's Inaugural Ball, organized by Every Child Matters. I was among 2,000 attendees at the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., who included "regular" families and VIPs like George Stephanopoulos, who brought his wife and children, and Michael Phelps' VIP mother, Debbie.

In addition to all the food (hot dogs, popcorn, cotton candy) and fun (music, magician, puppets), there was also a powerful message that many presidents have made significant improvements in children's health and education, and the inauguration of President Obama represents a chance to truly put children first. Specifically, the group is concerned about the nearly 9 million children without health insurance, the 3 million children reported abused and neglected each year, nearly 2 million children with a parent in prison, 13 million children in poverty, and as many as 14 million without adequate supervision after school while parents work. Every Child Matters created a nine-page booklet you should take a look at -- called "Presidents Helping Children" (pdf).

A highlight for me was meeting Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul, and Mary -- who performed "Puff the Magic Dragon" and a song the group played at the 1963 March on Washington, "If I Had a Hammer." (Both songs are below.)

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