Hundreds of staff, volunteers, and supporters from all over California traveled to Sacramento for Capitol Day: 100 Years of Impact on May 23, 2016.
Just outside the south steps of the Capitol, participants heard from several engaging speakers and panelists, including Matilda Berke, a Planned Parenthood Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley Peer Advocate and high school student; Renee Bracey Sherman, author and activist; Asm. Jimmy Gomez; and many more. Then following a lobbying and leadership development training, participants went to practice their new lobbying skills inside the Capitol in support of SB 999, AB 1671, and SB 960.
Here are some participant experiences from Capitol Day 2016!
My experience at Capitol Day this year was truly amazing, inspiring and empowering. Hearing all the stories from all across the state and all the support we received from not only our colleagues but elected officials and volunteers reminded me of why we are here and why I do what I do every day. Besides the amazing experience with my colleagues, I also had an amazing experience talking to our legislators. During my time there, we were able to speak directly with two out of the three legislators we had meetings with. While speaking with Assemblymember Chau, he had questions about our bills that made me feel that he cared not only for our organization and success but for our patients as well. Also, during the conversation with Assemblymember Holden, I was able to speak with a like-minded individual who talked about his own family and experience. This inspired me and woke me up to the realization that we all have a voice and the ability to make a difference and we should not be intimidated.
This past Monday was my first time attending Capitol Day, and actually my first time visiting the state capitol. I had the unique opportunity to lobby for the passing bills in California. Being in Sacramento and talking to assembly members was an ecstatic experience. I was excited to feel like I was making a real impact on the people of California. As a high school student, it felt great to know I could stand up for what I believe in and have my beliefs be taken seriously. When one the bill SB 999 passed, I along with all the others participating, felt the satisfaction of making a positive difference in our state. Working together with family, friends and colleagues to make change was an unforgettable experience that I hope to have again.
One thing that struck me during Capitol Day was the atmosphere in the morning. It was an unabashedly pink world in which an ovary sweater inspired envy. Here, no one batted an eye over an abortion story. Women felt free to share their vaginal histories, and they did so to a room full of chingonas. This is not something that happens every day and it pains me that very few women have experienced such liberty.
One of the things that stood out to me from my experience at my first Capitol Day with Planned Parenthood has to be the speech by the effervescent and impossibly talented Renee Bracey Sherman. It was so empowering to hear her speak on her experience with abortion and how Planned Parenthoods stand for women and reproductive rights affects people much more than I could have ever thought. It made me genuinely proud to be a part of that fight and helping others - whether they be cis, trans, or non-binary - find the help they need in a safe, inclusive environment.
We were excited to bring a lot of high school Peer Advocates and high school- or college-aged volunteers. Our legislators were impressed with the energy and passion of our youth – and it was so awesome to give these students a first-hand look at their state’s legislative process. We even had one high schooler who wants to look into legal careers now!