Birthdays are sometimes odd.  When you are younger, you look forward to each of them as a step closer to the freedoms that come with adulthood.  Later on, they can become a less appealing reminder of lost youth. For many, they once again become fun milestones in old age – another trip around the sun, another year of history, and another chance to spend time with loved ones.
 
I am celebrating my birthday this week, and I always take the time to look back on the prior year and see if it was a success.  I often measure this with work goals, and I am pleased with how much the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) was able to accomplish since September 18 of last year. 
 
During the last 365 days, we pulled off a successful Fall Forum at the Oklahoma State Capitol; we assumed responsibility for OK Foster Wishes, a program that delivers thousands of holiday gifts to children in foster care; and we helped to successfully advocate for the passage of more than 20 laws benefitting children (and helped to block a few that did not). We initiated the Chalk the Vote program to provide advocacy assistance to educators, and we also celebrated OICA’s 35th anniversary with two special events.
 
In addition to all of this, I am pleased to announce that I have accepted a role as a recurring guest on the morning radio show on KOKC AM 1520 with David Kelso.  If you are in the Oklahoma City listening area, please tune in from 6am to 9am on Tuesdays to hear us discuss issues impacting the children of Oklahoma, current events, and some fun topics.  This is also a call-in show, so feel free to join in on the discussion on live radio!
 
I, like many other Oklahomans, struggle to find the right balance between work and the rest of the time in the day which is supposed to be off-the-clock, but I am doing my best to relax more.  With this schedule, I need the rest at my age!
 
With that being said, there will be no slowing down for OICA as we have much work in store.  We will have our Fall Forum again at the Oklahoma State Capitol this year and will add on an extra day.  If you can join us on October 24-25, please be a part of the discussion on ways to improve our state for children.  We will also kick off OK Foster Wishes in late November with some additional exciting news which we will share with you soon. 
 
In addition, if you would like to not only help celebrate my birthday, but also help out OICA and the youth program of your choice, go to our website oica.org and see how you can sponsor a youth program with an annual membership. This will allow that program the opportunity to attend advocacy updates every other week during the legislative session and receive recognition in our desktop calendar.

Aging is not such a bad thing, especially when you can look back and be satisfied that the last year was a good year.  Without jinxing myself, my birthday wish this year will be for 2019 to be an even more productive year in terms of helping children and youth in Oklahoma.  Please help me celebrate my birthday by doing your part to help accomplish that!