As the mother of two beautiful children who attend Aurora Public Schools, every day I think about the opportunities that may find my children as they head out for school. Like many mothers, I also think about challenges they’ll face and the ways in which I wish I could be there to keep them happy and healthy. While there’s no shortage of things I worry about for my children, this week I knew there was something I could do to advocate for them.
I could vote.
We all want healthy kids, but lately it seems many of them are struggling to maintain a good sense of physical health or mental health. It’s so sad that according to Chalkbeat, “of the 29 school districts asking voters to increase local taxes for education, at least 19 have made school safety and security projects an explicit priority if those measures are approved.”
My oldest son struggles with his weight and for me, it has been difficult to pay for extracurricular activities to keep him active. Often times, television and video games are the cheapest resources at hand for a mother like me who has to work and maintain a home. But I am concerned about my son’s physical and mental health and I would like his school to include more programs to increase his physical activity. Due to his weight, my son has also suffered from bullying and I wish there was more anti-bullying prevention programs and other mental health support for students to access in and after school.
This is just one of the reasons why I’ve been doing my part to learn about ballot measure 5A. It gives every day parents like me an opportunity to decide how to use my vote when it comes to funding safety and educational programs in Aurora. If approved, ballot measure 5A, will provide $35 million annually to support student health, safety and learning and it would cost homeowners about $8 per month for every $100,000 of home value.
Specifically, the funds would support after-school programs in K-5 elementary schools , adding seat belts in school buses, pay increases for school staff and most importantly, funds for mental health support.
I envision after-school programs that promote physical activity in kids and resources and support tools for parents and children to learn to communicate better, learn how to manage cyberbullying challenges with social media, as well as other programs to promote positive mental health awareness. With so many mental health support programs already in middle and high schools, these funds could also be allocated to elementary schools so that younger students could to have access to the resources that could help them enter middle school equipped and less vulnerable to bullying and suicide.
While tax payer concerns are certainly something to consider, it is also important to keep in mind that our youth are the ones who are going to be managing our communities, our state and even our country one day. I don’t want to worry that they won’t be up to the challenge. They need as much support as we can give them, so they are prepared to face new challenges and create new solutions.
Mónica Hernández González is a mother of two students in Aurora Public Schools. She works for a non-profit and is very involved in the community of Aurora.