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On June 7th, it's booties on the ground.
Elaine Zukerman's picture

On June 7th, it’s time to put some booties on the ground! The North Carolina Early Education Coalition (the Coalition) is ready to take Raleigh by storm as it holds its first Strolling ThunderTM event on June 7, 2018, from 8:30am-12:00pm at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and Bicentennial Plaza. As a state partner in the national ZERO TO THREE Think BabiesTM campaign, we are bringing families with young children and other early childhood advocates to the General Assembly to raise public awareness and speak with their policymakers about making the potential of every baby in North Carolina a top priority. 

The science is clear—our brains grow faster between the ages of 0 and 3 than at any later point in our lives, making more than one million new neural connections every second. When babies have nurturing relationships, early learning experiences, and good health and nutrition, those neural connections are stimulated and strengthened, laying a strong foundation for the rest of their lives. But when babies don’t get what their growing brains need during this crucial time, it can lead to life-long developmental, educational, social, and health challenges. Families without the social and economic resources to provide their babies and toddlers with positive, nurturing experiences are at a disadvantage, and currently, more than half of North Carolina’s babies live in or near poverty.

Giving all babies a strong start in life yields significant returns in the long run for everyone through more years of education, more employment, and better health as an adult. Through the Think Babies NC initiative, we want to ensure that all of North Carolina’s youngest children, ages 0-3, and their families benefit from effective public policies, programs, and funding that promote a solid foundation for healthy beginnings, supported families, and quality early care and learning experiences.

These are some of the issues that will be the focal point of Strolling ThunderTM. Along with our partners at and the North Carolina Association for the Education of Young Children (NCAEYC), we have a variety of activities planned for the June 7th event, including meetings with legislators, a stroller rally and stroll around the General Assembly, baby playtime, and more. Registration is now open at

Earlier this month, Mandie Padgett, a mom from Winston-Salem, NC, and her 12 month-old daughter, Millie, traveled to Washington, D.C. to represent North Carolina at a national Strolling ThunderTM event. Mandie and Millie met with Senators Burr and Tillis and Representative Foxx, and Mandie shared her personal story and let them know why it’s important to her that every baby in our state is a priority. Millie chimed in too!

“Our experience in DC, was truly unforgettable! It was so enriching to meet parents of babies from all over the country and hear their stories. It seemed like every type of family dynamic and socioeconomic status was represented, yet we all had the same concerns for our babies. Our visits with congressional representatives went so smoothly, and I was surprised at how engaged each of the staff employees were. Having Millie there, blowing kisses and flashing her smile, helped to break the ice, of course!”


We hope you’ll help us push for change at Strolling ThunderTM by speaking up and sharing your story too!

Mandie says, “It is an antiquated philosophy that believes babies simply need to be tended to. The growth that is happening in their little brains and bodies is nothing short of mind-blowing, and every aspect of it needs to be nurtured. These tiny humans are going to be full-grown very soon, and will then be our colleagues, fellow constituents and eventually, our caregivers. By supporting their needs now, we give babies every opportunity to grow into the mentally healthy, productive members of society whom we can trust with the future.”

If you aren’t able to make it to Raleigh on June 7th, you can still participate in Strolling ThunderTM and let policymakers know that babies and their families are important to you. MomsRising parents will be making special deliveries that morning to tell legislators about NC's newest arrival: Think Babies NC! Be sure to sign the card and show your support from across the state. You can also help raise awareness through social media using #StrollingThunder and #ThinkBabiesNC.

We need to take more than just baby steps, and that means we need families from all over North Carolina to share why these issues are important. To learn more about the Think Babies NC initiative, please click here. We hope to see you at Strolling ThunderTM!

Elaine Zukerman is the Infant/Toddler Education and Advocacy Coordinator at the North Carolina Early Education Coalition.

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