Moms and Dads Make Laws and History
SCHOOL FOR GIRLS
Women’s-rights advocate andmom o one
opens the Troy FemaleSeminary (now the EmmaWillard School) in Troy, NewYork. It’s the rst school in theUnited States to oer girls aneducation equal to that or boys.
NO WORk, mORE PLay
Labor rights activist and momo our
“mother” mr HrrisJones
leads striking childrenrom the tetile mills o Kensington, Pennsylvania, toPresident Theodore Roosevelt’shome on Long Island, NewYork. They carry banners saying“We want time to play!” and“We want to go to school!”
RIGHTS FOR aLL kIDS
As the most infuential membero the United Nations’Commission on Human Rights,ormer First Lady and mother o si
cheerswhen the General Assemblyadopts The UniversalDeclaration o Human Rights,Among its eatures: giving rightsto kids born to single moms.
triesunsuccessully to enroll his7-year-old daughter, Linda, in awhite school in Topeka, Kansas.In 1954, the Supreme Courtrules that it is unconstitutionalto segregate children in schools.
For many parents, advocating or laws that protect children isa passionate act o remembering. “To have your child erasedrom the earth is horriying,” says Long Island, New York,mother Adriann Raschdor-Nelson, whose 16-month-old son,Alec, was killed when a beloved elderly relative backed overhim because o zero rearview visibility in an SUV. Togetherwith her husband, Bill Nelson, they successully lobbied orAlec’s Law, which mandates that all Long Island residents whobuy or lease a car receive a brochure with inormation aboutthe rear blind zone and preventing accidental backovers.It took two years to pass the local legislation, but pushingthrough a law at the ederal level oten takes much longer.“The range is a couple o years to never—never being themost common,” says Janette Fennell, the president andounder o KidsandCars.org, a nonprot that advocates orimproved car saety. Yet even knowing that there’s littlechance o a simple success, parents press on.The Nelsons also met with then Senator Hillary RodhamClinton and testied in Washington, D.C., in support o ederal legislation, now passed, that makes it impossible toput a car into gear without a oot on the brake and or allvehicles manuactured starting in 2014 to be equipped with arearview camera. “Instead o blaming somebody, we lookedor opportunities to make a dierence with Alec’s lie,” saysBill Nelson. “It’s emotional and it brings us back to where wewere when Alec died, but it helps us to help others.”Kim and Ken Hansen, o West Seneca, New York,understand intimately what motivates the Nelsons to keeppushing or improved saety laws. The couple lost their16-year-old daughter and only child, Amanda, when she waspoisoned by a carbon-monoxide leak at a sleepover. “A weekater she passed away it hit me that there was something Ihad to do so that it wouldn’t happen to another amily,” saidKen. “I knew that I needed to get carbon-monoxide detectorsin homes.” Today, Amanda’s Law requires most houses andapartments in New York State to have working detectors.I Amanda had lived, the Hansens would be spending theirweekends looking at colleges. Instead, they devote their reetime to educating people about carbon-monoxide poisoningand distributing CO detectors at places such as The HomeDepot and re stations. “The pain is always there, but everytime we speak that’s one more amily Amanda is protecting,”says Ken, his voice breaking. “That’s what it’s all about or us.”
Not Just Politics
A parent’s passion is a powerul tool or pushing throughlegislation. “When we meet with a mother or ather andhear the story o how their child died because o adangerous product, it uels our commitment to implementlaws that can save lives,” says Scott Wolson, director o theOce o Inormation and Public Aairs at the U.S.Consumer Product Saety Commission. Fennell is moreblunt: “You can’t just turn away rom a grieving parent.”These kinds o tragedies irrevocably change not only aparent’s daily routine but also how she sees hersel in theworld. “I always thought I was a strong person, but I didn’trealize the depth o that inner strength,” says HeatherVandenberghe, o New York City, whose 3-year-olddaughter, Elle, was injured, almost atally, when she was hit bya reckless driver who was reversing into a parking space whileElle and her nanny were walking to her preschool.