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West Virginians to talk policy

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Through the collective effort of WV Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, West Virginia Community Development Hub and West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy, the “Our Children Our Future Policy Workshop Campaign” offers West Virginians a chance to have their voices heard at the Legislature.

The workshops are scheduled in four locations from July 17-29 and “bring concerned West Virginians together to solve real problems,” according to a news release. When participants sign up for the workshops, they can choose from among 27 different issues on which to work.

The workshop process itself has several different steps, from proposing a policy solution to crafting specific policy proposals and a symposium presentation in September. The final step in the workshop process is the November selection of five main policy issues and five supporting policy issues.

Stephen Smith, executive director for WV Healthy Kids and & Families Coalition, said whether a policy issue makes it on the final platform or not, the ultimate goal is offering help and assistance to potentially make any policy issue an eventual legislative reality.

Mary McFarland, West Virginia Community Development Hub, said other issues can be moved forward by their respective teams, as they normally would be on any issue that has advocates working on it in the Legislature. However, the Campaign is not directly involved in advocacy for the issues not voted on the Top 10 platform.

The sessions are broken into the Southern Region, Northern Region, Central Region and Eastern Region. Group sizes, McFarland said, vary greatly.

“Last year, teams had anywhere from six to 30 people on them,” she said.

Registration for WV Regional Policy Workshops is now open and registration for each workshop closes five days prior to the event. The sessions run from 8:30-3:30. During the workshops, lunch will be provided while participants hear from panels of legislators and community members.