Justin Evers, 12, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, a sixth-grader at Classen Middle School of Advanced Studies, is an energetic advocate for children in Oklahoma, particularly those who are dealing with hunger, abuse or are in need of foster care. Growing up in a family that opened its home to foster children, Justin has had a close-up view of the problems that many young people face. “I’ve seen too many kids affected by the atrocities of hunger, abuse and poverty,” he said. “I’ve felt their sadness and pain and longing for a family that cares.” He decided that if he could share his experiences, he could make people in his state understand the importance of improving the lives of children in need.
When Justin learned that a pair of social services organizations, Sunbeam Family Services and the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, were looking for a “Kid Governor” to help publicize these same issues, he jumped at the chance. He dug up statistics on child welfare in Oklahoma, made an application video, explained his interest in a panel interview, and was ultimately selected for the position. He then starred in four advocacy videos discussing education, hunger and foster care on social media; gave interviews to newspapers, magazines and TV stations; spoke at school and fundraising events; and lobbied government officials to prioritize children’s issues. Since his term ended, Justin has continued to work on behalf of kids in need. He has planned, organized and led activities at two week-long summer camps, packed food for the hungry, sorted clothes for the homeless, collected gift cards for foster children and wrapped Christmas presents for girls living in public housing.