Our family trip to Washington D.C.
How far would you go to protect your child’s future? As a young mother, I took my family to Washington, D.C. to join scores of parents and children for a “Play-In”, organized by Mom’s Clean Air Force (MCAF), demanding lawmakers solve our climate crisis.
All of our families were on a mission but making this trip was not easy, and that’s not because we were traveling with a three-year-old (Layla). Self-doubt and questions regarding how much of an impact we would have hampered our decisions to make an advocacy trip. My husband, Antonio, was very nervous because he is unable to vote; he felt he wouldn’t be able to make a lasting difference. We’ve lived in Aurora, Colorado for over ten years, but before that Antonio lived in Colima, Mexico, whereas I grew up in metro Denver. The moment we arrived at the “Play-In” his mood shifted – seeing other Latino families there gave him a sense of community and belonging, and motivated him to engage and help provide solutions to protect our family from the climate crisis. I was empowered to be around so many mothers and children who were there to fight for our families, and who will benefit from our family’s contributions.
Back home in Colorado
We traveled to D.C. to support MCAF for a variety of reasons, but one of the most important is my five-year-old godson who developed asthma at the age of two. His asthma gets very bad when he plays outside due to all of the pollution in his area. Playing outside is really how kids should be spending their time, running, biking and exploring. But because of his asthma, he can’t play for long before he starts coughing and complaining of shortness of breath. This doesn’t just affect him, his two older sisters also have asthma and his mom lives in constant fear of him having a serious asthma attack.
During our time in D.C., we were able to meet with Colorado elected officials including Diana Degette and Joseph Neguse. We discussed our community needs and our representatives shared their plans of actions to address our concerns. Degette informed our group that she is currently working on a bill that will focus on environmental issues, a conversation that really resonated with my husband and made him feel engaged.
Moving forward, I will be able to let our Latino communities know that you don’t have to be able to vote to make a difference. Over 500 people from over 25 states joined us for the MCAF, many of whom were not eligible to vote but made a tremendous impact by using their voices advocate for their communities and letting their representatives know that the environment matters to them. Voting is crucial, but there are many other activities that are just as important that we’d like our community to get more involved with like advocacy events such as this, or volunteering with local organizations, and even attending local meetings.
I’m proud of what we accomplished during this D.C. trip. I would love to return on another family adventure like this, but we also learned that we don’t have to go too far to advocate for our futures. We can start in our home communities, and that’s what the Chavez family will be doing in Colorado.