City kicks off 5th annual Children's Week

By Ashley Mitchem - Reporter, anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Florida's Children's Week kicks off April 8, when more than 5,000 child advocates will meet at the state Capitol to promote the health, safety, and well-being of the state's children.

But on Wednesday, Jacksonville participated in its own kick-off, with the fifth annual Jacksonville Kids Coalition's "Count Your Steps for Children" Advocacy Walk.

"What happens outside of the school affects the child's ability to learn. So has that child been fed? Has that child had a safe and nurturing environment?" said Annmarie Kent-Willette, education commissioner for the city of Jacksonville.

"Mental Health disparities, making sure children have adequate ways to get to early learning," said E. Moss, coordinator for the Jacksonville Kids Coalition.

Wednesday's event started at the Jacksonville Landing and ended at City Hall, where numerous speakers talked about issues facing kids in northeast Florida, and state and local funding for nonprofit programs for children.

"We need to have the elected officials pay attention to the real needs of the children," said Jon Heymann, CEO and executive director of the Jacksonville Children's Commission.

One teen said nonprofit programs like Daniel helped him not only find a family but is now helping him search for a job.

"I wouldn't be even a fourth of the man I am right now if it wasn't for Daniel and for all these nonprofit organizations," Adrian Steinbrecher said.

Another person who knows what it's like to be in the system is Jesse Wilson. He was in foster care for years before adoption.

"We need a lot more people who care about children and are going to stand up for them, because kids don't know how to stand up for themselves," Wilson said.

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