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St. John Nepomuk student named new Kid Governor

Audrey Patton, a fifth grader at St. John Nepomuk Catholic School, was recently chosen as Oklahoma’s 2017 Kid Governor by Sunbeam Family Services and the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA).
The Kid Governor program began last year as a way for children to be represented in the state by a child going around speaking about issues that affect children throughout the state.
“We are proud to partner with Sunbeam Family Services to select a Kid Governor and have one of our state’s youngest residents go around and champion issues to their peers, and discuss policy and try to improve Oklahoma for all of the kids,” said Joe Dorman, chief executive officer for OICA.
Audrey was one of 17 applicants who submitted videos for the “Vote 4 Kids” campaign this year.
During the application process, Audrey said she wanted to be Kid Governor because she felt like she could make a difference in Oklahoma.
Jim Priest, chief executive officer for Sunbeam Family Services, said Audrey is bright, funny and speaks well, but she was chosen because of her servant heart.
“Here’s somebody who embodies what we’re looking for in our governor and our kid governor,” Priest said during Monday’s press conference at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
Dorman started off the press conference by saying “We are very, very happy with this year’s selection of Kid Governor.”
“And I’ll tell you, she had much tougher competition than Gov. Fallin had at her last election,” Dorman joked. “It was a pretty tough challenge to go through this, and we ended up with an excellent [Kid] governor.”
Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang, also attended the press conference, presenting an official citation to Audrey.
Audrey’s parents, William and Megan Patton, as well as her little sister, grandparents and other family and friends attended the press conference in support of Audrey.
“I’m so, so honored to be the next Kid Governor. I look forward to my time as Kid Governor and highlighting food insecurity,” Audrey said during the press conference.
Audrey wasn’t anything but herself during the press conference as she joked with her Papa that Kid Governor was a higher position than Papa and proudly wore her hot pink bear ears headband.
“I had cat ears the first time I showed up. I saw the bear ears and I was like, ‘oh my goodness, they’re bear ears’ and they’re hot pink, which is my favorite color, and they’re animal ears so it’s like a win/win,” Audrey answered when asked about her head decoration by Priest.
During her term, Audrey will address issues affecting the well-being of Oklahoma’s children such as foster care, childhood poverty, early childhood education and mental health, according to a press release from Sunbeam.
She said she wants Oklahomans to pay attention to issues affecting Oklahoma’s children, but as a volunteer at the Regional Food Bank, she wants people to especially pay attention to children who are at risk of starving.
Her application video addressed child hunger and safe homes for children.
“I don’t want any child to go to be wondering where and when their next meal is,” Audrey said in a press release. “Children are most vulnerable during the summer when school is out.”
Priest said that for many, many years, people in the state have said “Children are our priority,” but unfortunately, as a state, don’t always act like it.
Oklahoma is ranked 39th overall in child welfare.
“We decided to do something. Instead of just talking about it, we wanted someone people would actually listen to,” Priest said. “And we thought—who could be better to talk about children’s issues than a child? And someone who is smart, who is articulate and someone who has a compassionate heart.”
Audrey agreed that Oklahomans don’t act like children are a priority.
“We don’t act like it and that’s not ok with me,” Audrey said. “It’s really important to me since other people like me are going through that and it’s sad, I don’t want to think of it that way.
“I want to do everything that I can to try to stop that and make [children] a priority.”
Audrey said she was so excited and didn’t know what to think when she was selected as Kid Governor.
“I just started jumping up and down and I was just really excited,” she said.
Audrey will serve as Kid Governor until the fall 2017 Oklahoma Kids Count Conference.

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