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Children's Movement of Florida to rally in Clearwater

Child advocates led by a group of high-profile Floridians will visit Tampa Bay today to announce the launch of a "Milk Party" campaign.

The Children's Movement of Florida says its statewide, nonpartisan effort, which kicks off in September, will urge Floridians to make kids — their well-being and education — a top state priority.

Help for children, especially those younger than 5, is urgently needed, organizers say. They hope to raise awareness about five areas:

• Quality youth health care.

• Screening and treatment for special-needs children.

• Prekindergarten opportunities.

• Mentoring programs.

• Parental education and skill building.

The Children's Movement is having a series of news conferences around the state today in Miami, Orlando, Tallahassee and Clearwater to unveil the "Milk Party" effort.

The Clearwater event is at 2 p.m. at the Holiday Inn at 3535 Ulmerton Road near the St.Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport.

Former Miami Herald publisher David Lawrence Jr., co-chairman of the organization, leads a 27-member committee that includes Floridians like former legislator and University of South Florida president Betty Castor, and former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz.

The rally campaign has been in the works for a year, bringing in $1 million from private donors, organizers said.

It's not about tax increases or political jockeying, said spokesman Martin Merzer. The group's specific plans of action — for example, pushing for new laws, programs or funding — will be revealed during the rallies.

"We will have a very specific call to action during the rallies," he said. "We will be announcing that."

There will also be milk and cookies.

Stephanie Hayes can be reached at shayes@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8857.

Children's Movement of Florida to rally in Clearwater 08/08/10 [Last modified: Sunday, August 8, 2010 9:39pm]
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