A group of seven social work students at Trinity recently had a chance to practice political lobbying in Springfield, Illinois, as part of Advocacy Day, sponsored by the National Association of Social Workers.
“Lobbying is one of the many ways that social workers advocate for their clients,” said Cini Bretzlaff-Holstein, assistant professor of social work. “We have an ethical responsibility to advocate at the social policy level, as well as a biblical responsibility as Christians who are social workers.”
The students, along with professors Cini Bretzlaff-Holstein
and Dr. Mackenzi Huyser, spent the morning at the Prairie State Capital Convention Center with fellow social work students from across the state. Here, they participated in breakout sessions, panel discussions, and lectures. In these sessions, they discussed poverty, health care, the budget crisis, and lobbying techniques.
Next, Trinity’s group went to the capitol building and practiced some of what they had learned by lobbying for a bill that would prohibit the sale and serving of all food in Illinois schools containing trans-fats.
“Prohibiting trans-fat in schools is just one step closer to addressing the health epidemic of children today,” said Bretzlaff-Holstein. “We wanted students to learn how to talk with their legislators about an issue that matters to them.”
The students spoke with State Representatives LaShawn Ford, who introduced the bill, and Monique Davis, a co-sponsor for the bill. The representatives explained the next steps needed to pass the bill.
Kirsten Harms ’14 of Tinley Park, Illinois, learned the importance of using the democratic system to make a change.
“We should not be afraid to approach our representatives and ask them questions,” said Harms. “Not only should we know our rights, but we should use them to better the world we live in.”