Thinking about the issues of the day more than ever before in your house? Looking for ways to involve the kids in, well, a kid-friendly way? You’re not the only one! Here’s where and how the whole family can make its voice heard and participate in this lovely crazy thing we call democracy and free speech right here in NYC!

Ready, Set, March!
Of course, NYC has already hosted several marches and rallies organized to call attention to women’s issues, science, climate change, immigrant rights and more. Many parents and kids attended these together, but on May 13, the kids get a march of their own.

(You can stay up to date on all kinds of civic, community and social change events, talks, benefits and more happening around the city at sites like Take Action NYC, nyc protests and Justice Duckling, but the best way is to connect with local organizations that work for an issue you and your children care about.)

photo: mathiaswasik via Flickr

Next Generation Now: March and Rally for Youth Empowerment
As the organizers of this event point out, children don’t get to vote, but they do have a voice—and they want and need to use it. This rally and march in Brooklyn is being organized to help children learn to stand up and speak out on the issues they care about and serve as a celebration of independent thought, community, inclusivity, and their future.  It’s an opportunity to bring kids of all ages to an action planned just for them.

May 13, 11a.m.-2p.m.
North end of Cadman Plaza
Downtown Brooklyn
Online: facebook.com/events

Mother’s Day Stroll For Peace
Can’t make the Children’s March? The Mother’s Day Stroll for Peace is a great alternative. The event has quite a history: it was instituted in 1870 by Julia Ward Howe as a response to the carnage of the Civil War. Organizers plan to share the original meaning of Mother’s Day and protest a $54 million increase in defense spending by strolling in Battery Park, singing songs, and handing out Mother’s Day cards and leaflets bearing Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation.

May 14, 12:30p.m.-2p.m.
Manhattan entrance for Staten Island Ferry to Battery Park
Online: codepink.org and grannypeacebrigade.org

Women’s March And Rally To Ban The Bomb
Throughout June and July of 2017, governments will negotiate the ban on nuclear weapons at the United Nations. The Women’s International League For Peace And Freedom is coordinating actions to both celebrate and demand a good treaty that prohibits these weapons of mass destruction.  This march will be women-led but inclusive of everyone.

June 17, 12 p.m.-4 p.m.
Bryant Park to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza
Midtown to Turtle Bay
Online: womenbanthebomb.org

Celebrate and Support
Not up for marching? A great way to show support for a community or cause is to celebrate it at an organized and established parade or festival.

NYC hosts some of the biggest (and, dare we say, best?) events celebrating the diversity of its residents. Mark your calendar for National Puerto Rican Day (June 11) Parade, Heritage of Pride NYC Festival and Parade (June 25), Disability Pride Parade (June 9)and West Indian Day Carnival and Parade (Sept. 4).

If the main events (held mostly in Manhattan) feel too overwhelming handle, you can often find smaller equivalents in different boroughs. For a full list of what’s happening around the city in all boroughs, check out NYC government events listings

photo: via Stories Facebook page

More Resources for Ideas and Action
Many spots in the city have upped their activism game, too.

At Park Slope bookshop Stories Bookshop and Storytelling Lab, families can join an Activist Book Club that delivers age-appropriate books that inspire and inform kids about activism each month.

Hootenanny Art House Benefit concert photo: via Hootenanny Art House Facebook page 

The neighborhood’s Hootenanny Art House hosts action nights that include activities, music, dance and food to raise funds for organizations like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Standing Rock and the Southern Poverty Law Center. It’s next fundraising pop-up shop is on June 4.

Additionally, Hootenanny also has been open Mondays for a weekly Activist Coffee Hour from 3:30-4:30, where parents can bring their kids and participate in actions like writing postcards, making calls, signing petitions or making signs.

photo: mathiaswasik via Flickr

The Basics
The New York Society for Ethical Culture also offers programs for youth and gathers groups to participate in local activism. For example, it recently held a gathering to make posters and write chants and speeches for the Next Generation Now March and Rally for Youth and will meet as a group to attend both that event and the AIDS WALK NYC.

Additionally, the Society offers an Ethics for Children program focused on developing kids’ moral reasoning process through stories, discussions, service projects, field trips and art activities. Designed for students ages three to 12, the program strives to provide a safe, inclusive environment for kids of all backgrounds to learn, question, think and have fun.  The group meets on Sundays September-May in the organization’s building on the Upper West Side, with lunch included.

The program is free for children of members.  They encourage registration per semester of $100 each for fall, winter and spring, or $300 per year, but parents in need can also talk to the administrators about cost.  They do allow drop-ins if you can’t commit to a full semester, at a suggested donation of $10 per Sunday.  Parents should call first to check the schedule at 212-874-5210 x118.

Family with protest signs

photo: via Ted Eytan on Flickr

Are you attending marches and events with your kids? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

— Gretchen Kunz