Engage Policymakers Through Letter Writing

Though it seems as though the handwritten note is going the way of the dodo bird, a handwritten letter is actually still one of the more powerful tools you can use to raise the awareness of your local and state policymakers about play. Use this idea to rally your play committee around a letterwriting campaign! More letters mean more voices, and let’s be honest, to a policymaker it means more votes.

Sample Letter for Engaging Policymakers

Dear [Policymaker],

I am writing to ask you to defend and support access to play for children in [state or community]. Supporting [X bill] is a great first step.

As a parent and resident of [X community], I am deeply concerned that fewer kids spend time every day at a park or playground. Play is an old-fashioned solution to modern problems. The disturbing rise in childhood obesity, youth violence, and problems with school performance can all be addressed through play. It sounds simple because it is; play is a crucial factor in the overall well-being of children. Kids who play are healthier, do better in school, and become higher-functioning adults by developing social and problem-solving skills.

Recess is disappearing from our schools, and playspaces are missing from community and neighborhood development plans. Unstructured play is not as valued as it once was. As a result, the health and social benefits that come with play are being lost from our community.

[X bill] will not do all that we need to do to put play back into our children’s lives, but it’s a great first step. I applaud your concern for children in the community and urge you to vote for [X bill].

Please remember that some solutions are simple and that our children must be a priority.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
[Your name]
[Your address]

Here are a few helpful hints to guide you and your play committee through writing a letter to your representatives:

  • Use the correct form of address.

  • Identify yourself. If you are writing as a member of your community, schoolteacher, parks and recreation official, friend, college administrator, say so.

  • State why you are coming forward. Let your elected officials know you believe in the importance of unstructured play across your community. Example: You believe that play is a right of all children.

  • Be specific. Cite a bill number or other identifying information. Give examples. If budget cuts have forced your community to not maintain playgrounds or build new ones, say so.

Ways to communicate

  • Write from the heart. Avoid clichés. Form letters that look like they’re a part of an organized pressure campaign don’t have as much impact as a personal letter.

  • Focus on the people who depend on playspaces: kids! Include stories or examples of how playspaces make a difference in children’s lives.

  • Be brief. A one-page letter is easier to read, and more likely to be read.

  • Be sure to include your name, mailing address, and telephone number in the letter, not just on the envelope. If the letter gets separated from the envelope, the legislator may not be able to respond.

  • Compound your letter’s impact by sending copies to city councilors and members of Congress and other officials. Don’t forget to include any press coverage as articles, letters, or op-eds from your local newspaper on the issue. Be sure to send a copy to KaBOOM!. We would love to highlight your work.

  • Be strategic. Know the budget cycles for various governing bodies. Send letters early to maximize their impact.

"Pausing to listen to an airplane in the sky, stooping to watch a ladybug on a plant, sitting on a rock to watch the waves crash over the quayside—children have their own agendas and timescales. As they find out more about their world and their place in it, they work hard not to let adults hurry them. We need to hear their voices."
– Cathy Nutbrown, contemporary British educational theorist