A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kids Voting NKY to honor Jane Beshear with its Civic Leadership Award at March 21st luncheon

Kids Voting Northern Kentucky will present the organization’s highest honor, its Civic Leadership Award, to Jane Beshear, who served as First Lady of the Commonwealth of Kentucky from 2007-2015.

The award will be presented at the Kids Voting Northern Kentucky’s annual luncheon on March 21, 2017 at the Radisson Hotel Cincinnati Riverfront, 668 West Fifth St. in Covington.

As a businesswoman, educator, community leader, and First Lady of Kentucky, Beshear has been dedicated to service throughout the Commonwealth.

“I’m honored by the award. I’ve worked enthusiastically all my life to make Kentucky a better place, and a lot of that work centered on future generations — getting our youngest children off to a better start in life. You know what they say — once a teacher, always a teacher,” says Beshear.

Jane Beshear (Photo by Brian Moore, Kentucky Office of Creative Services)

Since 1995, Kids Voting Northern Kentucky, a non-profit, non-partisan organization, has worked to help increase youth awareness of the actual voting process and get in a habit of going to the polls. The goal is to increase civic engagement and, ultimately, increase adult voter turnout. On Election Day, kids go to the polls with their parents and cast votes in a separate booth. Along with top elective races, kids also vote in mock referendums on questions that appeal to them: such as whether their schools should have uniforms or should teach cursive writing.

In the last presidential election, nearly 11,000 young people voted, and since 1995, it’s estimated that well over 100,000 youth votes have been counted. In addition, more than 100 students volunteer each year to assemble ballot boxes, staff the polls and count the vote.

“In a time when a lot of people are cynical toward government and politics, it’s refreshing to see an organization like Kids Voting Northern Kentucky that understands the importance of getting engaged in picking our leaders and is quietly training young children to use that power to engage in building a better country,” says Beshear.

The Kids Voting Northern Kentucky Civic Leadership Award recognizes exemplary leadership. Past recipients of the award include former Kenton County Judge Executive Ralph Drees, Congressman Ken Lucas, former Secretary of State Trey Grayson, Campbell County Clerk Jack Snodgrass, Tim Hanner, Judge Karen Thomas and Holly and Eric Specht from NKY Hates Heroin. Additionally, students and volunteers will be recognized with awards related to Kids Voting’s mission of civic education.

Proceeds from the luncheon will help buy civics education supplies for classrooms and help Kids Voting conduct future elections.

Beshear is being honored for a lifetime of work, including her work as First Lady while her husband, Steve Beshear, was governor. Under her leadership, the Office of the First Lady was active in a wide array of issues and initiatives that helped children.

In 2008 she energized the fight against students dropping out of school with “Graduate Kentucky: A Community Approach,” a campaign that included regional summits and culminated in Kentucky raising its compulsory school attendance age from 16 to 18.

She also raised over $250,000 from the private sector to create the Capitol Education Center, transforming an abandoned building into a place where Kentucky schoolchildren visiting the Capitol could eat lunch and learn about energy. In the area of literacy, Beshear sponsored a week-long Kentucky Literacy Celebration, an annual “Feed the Mind” celebration, a quarterly recommended reading list and book distributions.

Beshear currently serves on the board of America’s Promise Alliance, the organization run by General Colin Powell and Alma Powell that is called the nation’s largest network dedicated to improving the lives of young people.

Tickets are $35 each or $250 for a table of eight. Sponsorships are also available. Doors will open at 11:30 a.m. with lunch at noon. For information, email KidsVotingNKY@aol.com or call 859-982-9353.

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