Category Archives: Volunteer

Guest Post: Parents & Kids Can Get Involved in Moms Demand Action Together


[Note: This is a Guest Post contributed by Rachel Usdan, the DC Chapter Leader of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. And I did not make her write that first line. 🙂 ]

I am a big fan of the KidFriendly DC blog, reading it regularly since my children were born to plan out our weekly adventures in the DC area. I have always tried to teach my children about current events in a kid-friendly way, too, and to include them in civic-minded activities like taking them in the voting booth with me to help press the buttons and get their “I voted” sticker.

Two years ago, when I learned that my then 3-year-old was enduring active shooter drills in his pre-K classroom, I realized that he already knew more about gun violence than I had hoped. So, I have also involved my children in gun violence prevention activism since I started volunteering for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. It’s actually not surprising that a movement started by moms (but open to dads, grandmas, and everyone else, too!) is in fact very kid-friendly.

Are you interested in getting involved in Moms Demand Action with your children? Here are a few activities that parents and kids of all ages can have fun doing together:

Wear Orange Picnic
Wear Orange is National Gun Violence Awareness weekend. The community building event takes place in June every year. Last month DC Moms Demand Action came together for a family-friendly picnic in Anacostia Park with a survivor speaker, a voter registration table, food, face painting, kites, giant Jenga, and Frisbees.

Tabling at Community Events
We do tabling for a variety of reasons. It’s a great way to talk to people in the community about gun violence prevention, educate them on the Be Smart program, describe ways that they can get involved with Moms Demand Action, and even directly help them register to vote. We had a table at the Garfield Community Day block party in Ward 8 last week, where we talked to parents, grandparents, and community leaders about the gun violence affecting their lives. I brought my 6-year-old with me, convincing him that he could be my helper and that there might be a popsicle in it for him at the end. Not only was he excellent at applying temporary tattoos to other kids’ arms, he also had a total blast playing Frisbee with a police officer, getting soaked in the huge stream of water from a fire hose, and gobbling up a quickly melting popsicle.

Moms Demand Action is going to do tabling at the H Street Festival on September 15. We are also planning to do tabling several other times this fall specifically to register voters. You can Like or Follow the Moms Demand Action – DC Facebook Page and Text READY to 64433 to stay posted on upcoming events.

Canvassing for Gun Sense Political Candidates
We started young with our children and took them on daytrips to nearby Virginia to canvass when they were infants. With preschoolers, we made sure to pack lots of snacks and mapped out a playground pitstop to get some of their (and our) wiggles out in between door knocking. I’ll never forget when my then 5-year-old son decided to impersonate Hillary Clinton while he knocked on doors (“Knock, knock, this is Hillary Clinton at your door!”). With older children, tweens, and teens, the motivation might not be a playground or a snack, but they would be old enough to make a fun game out of seeing which parent/child team can get through the door-knocking list first.

The DC chapter of Moms Demand Action will be joining up with the chapter in neighboring Virginia to help with their canvassing events throughout the fall to help elect gun sense candidates — because a safer VA is a safer DC. We may also work with chapters in nearby Maryland and Pennsylvania depending on candidate needs and volunteer capacity.

Activities that parents can do with teens:

DC Chapter Meetings
We typically hold meetings once a month. Our next one is taking place Sunday, July 15, 4-6pm, at We Act Radio (1918 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE). We will hear from Ron Moten, an Urban Violence Prevention Specialist and DC Community Organizer. RSVP and read more about it here!

Gun Sense Action Network
Are you and your teens looking for the most effective way for DC residents to influence gun sense legislation? Join the Gun Sense Action Network, a phone calling program that you can do from the convenience of your home. Our chapter is also planning to hold several phonebanking parties in the upcoming months to help elect gun sense candidates in the midterm elections. Again, you can Like/Follow the Moms Demand Action – DC Facebook Page and text READY to 64433 to stay up to date as we finalize these events.

Attending Hearings on the Hill
We are uniquely positioned here in the nation’s capital such that when the House or the Senate holds a hearing on a piece of gun safety legislation, the DC, VA, and MD chapters of Moms Demand Action throw on our red shirts and head to the Hill to let our lawmakers know we are following how they vote on these lifesaving laws. I think older kids would be fine attending hearings. They can be long and boring, but a child could bring coloring or another quiet activity. I’ve seen young children as well, but most are usually being entertained by an iPad with earphones (just FYI).

Students Demand Action
If you have a teen aged 14+ who is motivated to be involved on their own and with their friends, invite them to join the DC chapter of Students Demand Action! Many tweens and teens have begun to take this movement to the next level by forming chapters of Students Demand Action in cities and states across the US. Here in DC, high school students from across the city had their very first DC Students Demand Action meeting in June. They have jumped right in and have already created a Facebook Page and an Instagram account. They will be involved when the March for Our Lives Road to Change Bus Tour stops in DC on August 5, and are starting to plan other actions specifically for local students. Students can join by texting STUDENTS to 64433.

You can also help some of their efforts by donating to a GoFundMe campaign created by Lauryn Renford, an amazing DC Students Demand Action leader. She is raising money for a mural to memorialize DC youth who have been killed by gun violence, including her boyfriend, Zaire Kelly. She has already commissioned artists, found a wall, and received permission from the city. All she needs is enough money.

You can also help support the efforts of the Moms Demand Action DC Chapter, by making a contribution. Funds help support our work on the Hill and in the local community. We are a 501(c)3 organization.

To learn more about the gun violence epidemic in America visit Everytown for Gun Safety.

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Rachel Usdan is the DC Chapter Leader for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. She lives in DC with her children and husband. When she isn’t being an engineer or a volunteer, she likes to do arts & crafts projects and eat dark chocolate.

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Where to Play on the Weekdays: April 16-20

The Emancipation Statue in Lincoln Park on Capitol Hill



Monday – Check out your local library! Drop in for story time, sing-a-longs, arts & crafts, and other activities, or just go to browse for books. See this post from the very early KFDC days for a little background and quick links to libraries around the area. Hours vary by location, admission is free. (Update: A KFDC readers just pointed out some libraries are closed in observance of Emancipation Day. For more ideas of things to do on the rainy day, check out The Great Indoors post.)

In the afternoon and evening, travel back in time with the National Park Service for Emancipation Day at Lincoln Park on Capitol Hill. Relive the moment in DC’s history when Frederick Douglass gave his famous keynote address in Lincoln Park during the 1876 Emancipation statue dedication. The fun-filled day will honor Douglass’ legacy, celebrate and explore the significance of Emancipation Day, and highlight the importance of historic Lincoln Park. This will all take place from 2-8pm. Admission is free.

Tuesday – Catch a performance of Arts on the Horizon’s Outside the Lines at The Lab of Convergence in Alexandria, VA. The show about two pen pals, Bud and Vi, who brighten each other’s lives from afar, is recommended for ages 2-5. Showtime is 10:30am, and tickets are $9.

Wednesday – Go over the rainbow and beyond at Watkins Regional Park. There is so much for all ages to enjoy. The adorable Wizard of Oz themed playground will keep little ones frolicking for hours. You can also visit the animals at Old Maryland Farm, then head to the Watkins Nature Center to view some cool creatures and birds. Along with animals inside, look for frogs in the pond right outside and do some bird watching and visit the owls, then hike the short trails nearby. Park hours are dawn to dusk, 9am – 4pm at the Farm, and 8:30am – 5pm at the Nature Center. Admission is free.

Thursday – Enjoy a hike and a dose of history all at once at Roosevelt Islandt. The trails are easy for little legs to tramp, and you can explore the Memorial Plaza to learn about the legacy of President Theodore Roosevelt. The entrance to the park is located right off the GW Parkway, just past the Roosevelt Bridge, and accessible only from the northbound lanes. Hours are 6am – 10pm, and admission is free. Get a little more of the KFDC take on it in this post about local walks in the woods with kids.

Friday – Rock out with Alex and the Kaleidoscope at Discovery Theater, located in the Smithsonian Ripley Center (next to the Freer|Sackler Gallery). Emmy Award-winning children’s arts educator Alex Mitnick will be your musical guide for an Earth Day celebration of the treasures of the planet. Show times are 10:15am & 11:30am (Friday, too!). Enjoy some outdoor time after the concert — roam the lovely Haupt Garden right behind the Smithsonian Castle, ride the carousel on the National Mall, and/or see art al fresco in the Hirshhorn and National Gallery of Art Sculpture.

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Filed under 2018, All ages, DC, Educational, Free, Maryland, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Special Event, Theatre, Volunteer, Weekdays

Get Involved with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America



In my recent blogaversary post, I declared my intention to start using KidFriendly DC to do my part in the movement to end gun violence, and I’m following through. This past week, I attended my first Moms Demand Action meeting to learn more about how to get involved and take action.

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America was formed in 2012 in response to the Sandy Hook shootings. The non-partisan grassroots movement was created to “advocate for stronger laws and policies that will reduce gun violence and save lives.” It started as a Facebook page and has grown into a nationwide organization with chapters in cities all over the country. You can read more about their background and mission here.

Meetings are held regularly by chapters all around the areas they cover, so chances are you can find one near you. I went to one right in my neighborhood, and there was another earlier in the week in Northwest DC, plus more in both Maryland and Northern Virginia.

Our meeting began with words from Sarah Dachos, president of the Moms Demand Action DC chapter. She welcomed new members (there were quite a few of us), provided background on what they do, gave updates on recent efforts and achievements, and, of course, talked about the Parkland incident and movement started by the student survivors.

After that, we heard from a mom who lost her son to gun violence. Hearing her story about him and her consequential work with Moms Demand Action was moving and inspiring — and a reminder that this isn’t just about mass shootings, but about all gun violence that is much too prevalent in our society and country today.

Several other chapter committee leads then spoke about the particular things they do in their efforts to meet Moms Demand Action goals, both short and long term, and let us know what we can do to help. They organize groups to attend congressional hearings on gun legislation, talk to members of Congress in their offices on Capitol Hill, work phone banks to encourage donations, plan their annual Wear Orange event, and much more.

Among the handouts they gave us were a pledge to do several suggested tasks as a member of the group, including bringing new people to meetings, raising donations, and volunteering in the capacities mentioned above. I checked off mine with zeal and am looking forward to fulfilling my commitment.

I highly recommend attending a meeting if you’re interested in getting involved. Check your chapter’s event page on Facebook (see below) to find out when they are taking place.

More information about Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America is available on their website. You can also stay up to date on upcoming events and action by:
* Texting READY to 644-33
* Following Moms Demand Action on Facebook (go here for local chapters)
* Following @MomsDemand on Twitter
* Following @MomsDemand on Instagram

PS: It might be called Moms Demand Action, but Dads (and non-parents, for that matter) are welcome and encouraged to join, too!

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Filed under 2018, Cause, DC, Maryland, Moms, Virginia, Volunteer

The Weekend Round-Up: January 12-15

Young volunteers help clean up Anacostia Park on MLK Day of Service last year



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Long holiday weekend ahead! The kids are psyched for the extra day off school, but you might be looking for extra things to do. Not to worry — these ideas have you covered. Happy Weekend!

Celebrate MLK
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies

MLK Day may be on Monday, but there are events and activities that pay tribute to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. throughout the weekend. Volunteer opportunities, library activities, the annual Peace Walk & Parade, art adventures, and live entertainment are some of the ways you can celebrate the day. This post has details on all of them.

Camp Arena Stage Open House
Where: Arena Stage | Southwest DC
When: Saturday, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Arena Stage is hosting its first ever Camp Arena Stage Open House this weekend! Featuring sample workshops and classes taught by Camp staff, and an opportunity to have all of your Camp questions answered, this day of programming will give prospective campers and parents an opportunity to get a taste of Camp Arena Stage. Children ages 8-15 are welcome to participate in sample workshops and classes, and there will be face painting and craft activities for accompanying younger siblings. No reservations are required. (PS: We can tell you from firsthand experience that this camp is fantastic!)

Sound Health: Second Saturdays
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: Saturday, 9:30m & 11:30am
Admission: Free

This new series of free workshops designed for families with children under the age of 8 explores the power of the arts to promote wellness of the mind and body. Every second Saturday of the month, local arts organizations offer two 45-minute workshops in the Kennedy Center Grand Foyer.

Art Investigators
Where: National Gallery of Art | National Mall
When: Saturday, Sunday, & Monday
Admission: Free

Drop in to the National Gallery of Art as the museum’s wonderful program for children ages 4-7 returns for the season. Art Investigators introduces kids to art and encourages them to make observations and use their imaginations as they discover different works. During this weekend’s sessions, they’ll explore the art of Joan Mitchell. Read a KFDC review of the program from the early KFDC years (it’s old, but still relevant, as the program is very much the same, although the name has changed). Sessions are at 10:30, 11:30, and 12:30 on Saturday and Monday, and at 11:30, 12:30, 1:30 on Sunday. Sign-in takes place in the East Building Atrium, starting at 10am on Saturday and Monday and 11am on Sunday.

Wee Ones Storytime
Where: Hooray for Books | Alexandria, VA
When: Friday & Saturday, 10:30am
Admission: Free

Head to the book store in Old Town Alexandria for a reading just for little ones. At the weekly program, story time experts will read children board and picture books, sing songs, and perform and teach some fingerplays. Recommended for ages 0-3.

DC by Foot
Where: Various locations around DC & VA
When: Ongoing
Admission: Name your own price!

Get out and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air and have fun exploring the city on a walking tour! DC by Foot offers a variety of tour options throughout the area, the National Mall tour said to be most appealing for kids. Along with learning about the history of the sites, guests can also enjoy scavenger hunts and trivia. There’s even one that includes both the Mall and the Tidal Basin, where the MLK Memorial is located, perfect for the holiday this weekend. And tours are name-your-own-price, so you pay at the end what you think the tour was worth.

Tamayo Family Day
Where: Smithsonian American Art Museum | Penn Quarter
When: Saturday, 11:30am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate renowned Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo, whose work is on view in the exhibition Tamayo: The New York Years, with the American Art Museum! Bring the entire family for a day of Mexican cultural performances, crafts, and art. Take a trip through Tamayo’s New York with a scavenger hunt, make your own cityscapes with vivid colors, and use your imagination to create animals inspired by Oaxacan woodcarvings.

Race to the Moon
Where: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center | Chantilly, VA
When: Saturday, 10am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free, but parking is $15

Smithsonian TechQuest: Race to the Moon is a FREE alternate reality game at the Chantilly arm of Air & Space. Set in the thrilling era of early spaceflight, the game explores the exciting race to space by the first American astronauts. Your mission in this installment: Develop a rocket to launch into space, travel over 200,000 miles to the Moon, and land safely. It is 1969 and national pride and prestige are on the line. The United States is in a tight race with the Soviet Union to see who can be the first to land humans on the Moon and return them safely to Earth. NASA needs engineers and scientists with real problem-solving skills.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live
Where: Warner Theatre | Downtown DC
When: Saturday, 2pm
Tickets: $25-75

Daniel and all of his friends invite you for a brand-new adventure in Neighborhood of Make-Believe where Daniel learns just what it takes to be King. The beloved characters come alive on stage to captivate with new songs to sing along to, magical moments, and SURPRISE guests along the way! It’s an event filled with tigertastic fun, teaching the valuable lessons of kindness, helping others, and being a friend.

On Your Feet!
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: Through January 28
Tickets: $59 – $149

The new musical tells the story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan, who came from their humble beginnings in Cuba to America and broke through all barriers to become a crossover sensation at the very top of the pop music world. But just when they thought they had it all, they almost lost everything. On Your Feet! takes you inside their real-life story, with some of the most iconic songs of the past quarter century. Recommended for ages 8+.

Jason Didner and The Jungle Gym Jam
Where: Jammin Java | Vienna, VA
When: Saturday, 10:30am
Admission: $8 or $25/4-pack

Jason and Amy’s performance for kids and their grown-ups is more interactive than ever! Act out the parts of a fire engine, shake an egg shaker, twirl a colorful dance ribbon, and catch the rock-n-roll spirit. This is a musical experience for the whole family to cherish together.

Books Alive!
Where: Wheaton Interim Library | Wheaton, MD
When: Saturday, 11am
Admission: Free

InterAct Story Theatre shares a Family Literacy Fiesta celebration of books & stories as Executive and Artistic Director Ali Oliver-Krueger leads an interactive workshop for kids and parents. Join Books Alive! and chase away the chills by exploring a kid-friendly folk tale as actors — playing drama games, sharing a storytelling experience together, acting out stories in our own words and even making up a new story to share! Everyone gets into the act with InterAct Story Theatre’s teaching artists in this engaging and fun frolic with books. Best for ages 3 and up.

Model Trains and Thomas Celebrate History
Where: Historic Vienna Train Station | Vienna, VA
When: Saturday, 1-5pm
Admission: Free

Take a trip down to Vienna to visit the Historic Vienna Train Station! See and hear HO scale model trolleys and trains, including Thomas and some of his friends on display and in operation. It’s great family fun and an activity for the young and young at heart. The Station is located at 231 Dominion Road NE along the W&OD trail just past the Caboose.

Open Sew
Where: Three Little Birds Sewing Co. | Hyattsville, MD
When: Monday
Admission: Free

Join Three Little Birds Sewing Co. for a FREE Open Sew on MLK Day. Shoot them an email with your preferred two-hour time slot. You can also plan to do some shopping there — they carry modern fabrics, supplies, and notions. (They offer classes for kids and adults, too!)

Build a Better World
Where: JCC of Greater Washington | Rockville, MD
When: Monday, 10am – 1pm
Admission: $8/advance, $10/at door

Spend the morning creating and learning how people can work together to build a better world! Join other local families for a morning of service, play, and creativity. You’ll also enjoy a very special MLK Day performance featuring a reading of Shane Evens’ “We March” by Dr. Antoinette Waters, and a dance performance by Therapy Art, directed by Brittany King. This performance includes the story of the continuous effort to build a brighter future for all!

Free Parking
Where: National Parks
When: Monday
Admission: Free!

It’s the first fee free day of the year for national parks, which means there’s no entrance fee where they usually charge to get in. Take advantage of complimentary admission and the day off from school. Some ideas: Hit the trail at Shenandoah or Great Falls, explore Prince William Forest Park, go to Fort McHenry, or visit Harpers Ferry.

DC, Inside & Out
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

Looking for ways to stay active and entertained without a chill in the air? Then The Great Indoors post, a list of over 90 ideas for places to go inside, should have you covered. And if you prefer the outdoors no matter the weather, The Best Places in the DC Area to Enjoy a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids, has a bunch of recommendations, too.

***More Good Stuff to Know***
* Washington Revels is still enrolling in their Winter After-School Workshops.
* No Monsters in My Bed’s latest “Things to Read” features six interesting articles from around the Web.
* Next time you’re at The Yards, be sure to stop by Steadfast Supply to browse and shop for unique goods — housewares, T-shirts, jewelry, packaged foods, and more — all created by local artisans.
* Get your pink pussyhats ready — the Women’s March on Washington 2018:
March to the Polls
is next Saturday, January 20!
* This was superb live, and it’s also a remarkable, incredibly moving read.

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Filed under 2018, All ages, Annual, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Festival, Free, Holidays, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Parade, Park, Seasonal, Special Event, Theatre, Virginia, Volunteer, Weekend, Winter