Are you thinking about taking your kids to the People’s Climate March in New York City? We encourage parent activists to come to the march and march with Moms Clean Air Force. If you’re thinking about bringing your kids, with a little advance planning, you can make sure you all have fun and everyone stays safe. Here are the details:
Promoted as an effort to bring unprecedented attention to climate change, the gathering comes just as international climate negotiations ramp up in a major push toward a new global accord. The People’s Climate March, being called the “largest climate march in history” by organizers, will potentially draw over a hundred thousand people to walk through Manhattan and show a level of demand for action not seen since the era of Civil Rights marches and anti-Vietnam protests.
TIMING AND TRANSPORTATION
The Climate March commences at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, 9/21, at Columbus Circle on the south end of Central Park. There are a number of low-carbon transportation alternatives: The Sierra Club, one of the organizers of the event, is putting together a People’s Climate Train from the San Francisco area. There are climate buses departing from around the country. A ride share forum has also been set up on the march’s website. A group of extreme climate marchers currently most of the way through their trek across the country will even be taking a few days off to join the two-mile march.
THE PEOPLE’S CLIMATE MARCH CODE OF CONDUCT
To encourage the broadest and most diverse involvement possible, to respect our many communities and the important issues we are supporting, to help create a family-friendly mobilization and to help ensure the safety of all participants, we expect everyone taking part in the People’s Climate March on Sept. 21, 2014 to respect the following agreements:
- We will use no violence (physical or verbal) towards any person.
- We will not destroy or damage property.
- We will promote a tone of respect, honesty, transparency, and accountability in our actions.
- We will not carry anything that can be construed as a weapon, nor possess (or consume) any alcohol or drugs.
10 WAYS TO HAVE FUN AND STAY SAFE WITH YOUR KIDS
- Tell your kids it’s a parade! I learned a long time ago to use language that works for my kids (e.g., We never took our kids on a hike – that sounded like too much work. We did take them “exploring.”). A march is like a big parade, and that sounds like fun!
- Dress them up. If you like the parade idea, have your kids dream up costumes they want to wear. They could be suns, solar cells, wind mills, nasty coal plants, trees, air bubbles, smog, a thermometer…the sky’s the limit. Whatever they choose, the costumes should be easy to make, simple to get on and off, and able to hold up if it starts to rain. Avoid costumes your kids could trip over or that someone could step on (that means nothing with a tail or big floppy dinosaur feet). If you don’t wear costumes, it’s still a good idea for everyone in a group to wear the same kind of hat or brightly colored t-shirt so you easily keep track of each other in the crowd. On the day of the march, take separate pictures of each person in your group, adult and child alike, in the event you get separated and need a stranger’s help reuniting.
- Wear shoes or boots (leave the flipflops home), and double knot the laces. My daughter used to wear flipflops even if it was snowing outside! If the crowd gets excited or unruly, feet could easily be stepped on. Insist on close-toed shoes or even hiking boots (rain boots if needed). Also, everyone should wear their most comfortable shoes; focus on comfort, not fashion. Tie laces in double knots so you or your children don’t have to bend down in the middle of the crowd to try to tighten loose shoes.
- Prepare for sun, rain and wind. Check the forecast before you leave home. New York City in September can be gorgeous — or it could be cool and rainy. Put sunscreen on before the march starts, and reapply within two hours if you’re still outside. Sunglasses and hats will help, too. MCAF will provide shirts! Tell us your size HERE. Rain jackets, waterproof ponchos and windbreakers work much better in a crowd than umbrellas. If it might rain and you and the kids could get wet, keep dry socks and light-weight t-shirts in a zip-lock plastic bag in your backpack if you’re taking mass transit, or in your car. When the march is over, putting dry socks and shirts on might make everyone feel better. You can store the wet clothing in the zip lock bag.
- Take a few security precautions. Before you even leave for the march, come up with some safety plans that everyone in your group agrees to. Share cell phone numbers and know where you will rendezvous if you get separated. Make sure the batteries on all phones are fully charged; take your charger in your backpack just in case. Safety pin a note to smaller children that has your cell phone number on it as well as the cell phone of another parent or friend you’re marching with, in case one of you has problems getting a signal. Also, familiarize yourself with the on-site procedures the march organizers will have in place to ensure that lost children get reunited with their parents and caretakers as quickly as possible. Dissuade older kids from going off on their own (though they may get caught up in the excitement and just wander off). Set up the buddy system. Make sure older kids have buddies, so they’re always looking out for each other. Take a buddy for you, too. It will make the march more fun and reduce the stress of trying to keep track of your kids by yourself.Set a time and place where everyone will check-in or rendezvous.
- Foil pickpockets. Whenever I’m at a march or in a big crowd, I put my money, driver’s license, credit cards and keys in a light-weight pouch I can wear inside my jacket or shirt. I actually use my passport holder because it’s on a long thin strap that fits easily around my neck and drapes in front. You could also use a fanny pack that you keep in front of you, rather than actually on your fanny. I do NOT put valuables in my backpack – they’re just too easy for a stranger to get to, especially in a crowd.
- Skip the strap. Don’t tether a child to you with a walking strap or child leash. Kids can trip over those or get tangled up or worse in a crowd, especially if the crowd starts running. It’s better to have a stroller available for smaller kids who will need a break from walking every now and then. Bigger kids can go in a wagon, but don’t put a toddler in a wagon alone, as she could tumble out onto the cement.
- Remember the #1 key to kids’ happiness: food! Don’t over do it – you don’t need a five-course meal. But you need to bring healthy snacks and water. Older kids should wear their own backpacks or fanny packs to hold their rain jackets or windbreakers along with a water bottle, sandwich, some fruit and some kind of treat. There may be a lot of junk food for sale on the streets along the march route.
- Know when to take a break. You may be jazzed up and ready to walk the entire route in one fell swoop. The kids may need to step out of line to get away from the crowd or just run around and let off some steam. Don’t be rigid about how well you march or how much of the route you cover. You want this to be an experience the kids will remember so positively that they’ll want to do it again! At some point, and maybe long before the march is over, the event may get to be too much for the kids. You’ll be able to tell it’s time to leave by how much crying, whining, bickering and outright fighting ensues. That’s ok. The point really was to go, not necessarily to stay. The first march I took my daughter to in Washington, DC she just loved – until she didn’t. We left pretty much when she needed to leave. She got the point, and I felt like we both made one, too.
- Take lots of selfies! Commemorate the event with pictures that the kids can look at later with pride. Print some of those out and put them up on the fridge or your Facebook page. And don’t forget to share them with all of us at Moms Clean Air Force team HERE!
Image: Climate March Poster: James Jean