Politics is about passion and persistence.
Twelve-year-old Mary Clara Lawson, of White Bear Lake, showed a big dose of both last month. On May 16, she was among the 200 Minnesotans gathered in the hallway outside the governor’s office holding signs and standing a silent vigil.
The group was pressing the governor to sign the newly revised bill to fund Minnesota’s Health and Human Services (HHS) Programs. The bill extends state-sponsored health coverage to an additional 30,000 Minnesota children, and more than 20,000 adults.
“I’m here to help my mom and help everybody else,” said the young activist, standing in a crowd of concerned citizens and seasoned professionals. “Mom said this is about me. Just knowing all these people are here to help makes me feel great.” Lawson’s mother, Patricia Waller, was also among the crowd. Waller stressed the enormous importance of the bill, saying “Intervention works. As a family with a single, working mom, we need these supports.”
At one point the “silent vigil” was transformed into simply a “vigil,” with Lawson and her mother joining the throng in chanting “Sign the bill! Sign the bill!….” The marble hallways boomed with sound for 30 seconds, after which the vigil returned to its former decibel level.
Carrying a sign that still smelled of magic marker, the cheerful Lawson then added, “I have two brothers. They’re 17 and 20. We all use support services.” Lawson attends school at Minnesota Virtual Academy. The HHS bill affects the respite funding that the family uses, as well as services such as occupational therapy.
Asked what she would say if she could speak directly to the governor, Lawson showed common sense beyond her years, saying simply, “Listen to what everybody has to say. Sign the bill.”
Apparently the governor heard. He signed the bill,