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Free training session planned at Wesleyan College

BUCKHANNON — A Citizen Lobbyist Training session will take place at West Virginia Wesleyan College next week, providing information on how to effectively speak with local and state officials about progressive issues.

WV Free will provide information and resources on how to communicate with elected officials, “focusing on state representatives, but transferable to local and federal level officials,” according to a press release. The event is a combined effort with students of assistant professor of sociology Dr. Molly Clever’s “Community Social Justice” class.

WV Free is a nonprofit organization that focuses on political lobbying, public outreach and advocacy for issues related to health, education and poverty.

Clever explained the training is a group project for the course, and this is the first semester this class has been taught.

“The focus of the course is on making positive social change in our community to address issues of poverty,” she said. “This group decided to focus their project on state-level policy change.”

“Early in the semester, they started talking about what changes they wanted to see at the level of state politics, but quickly realized they didn’t have enough knowledge about how the state political system worked and how to go about advocating their ideas to their lawmakers,” she explained on organizing the event. “As they started researching to learn more, they came across this organization, WV Free, that provides citizen lobbying training. They contacted them to try to learn more about how to get engaged with their representatives, and learned that they could host this event on our campus.”

Clever noted, in addition to organizing this training, students also will travel to Charleston to meet with local delegates and discuss policy changes that can help improve how public schools in West Virginia provide food to students in need.

During the training, topics of discussion will include messaging tips on a variety of issues and how to connect these issues in a strategic and effective manner.

To learn more from policy and issue experts, networking time will be included in the training. This will allow attendees the opportunity to learn more about local and statewide organizations and groups.

“This training is very important in order to learn how to be effective in contacting local and state level representatives to advocate for legislative priorities,” Clever said in the news release. “You will learn how to identify a representative’s position on specific issues, and you will build confidence in approaching and speaking with representative to advocate for legislative issues you care about.”

Though this training is a helpful tool for students, Clever said all attendees will gain beneficial information.

According to the event’s Facebook page, the training is being hosted by multiple organizations, including Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, Our Children Our Future, Women’s March West Virginia, American Civil Liberties, Union of West Virginia, Sierra Club West Virginia, West Virginia Citizen Action Group and WV Free.

Training will take place Feb. 13 in the Greek Alumni Room of the Virginia Thomas Law Center for the Performing Arts. The event is free and open to the public.

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