Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

'Milk Party' kickoff draws supports in Clearwater

CLEARWATER — Shelly Leonard, 37, came to the launch of the "Milk Party" campaign Monday afternoon to find out one thing.

What will the Children's Movement of Florida do to help local children with special needs?

Leonard, a Clearwater resident, has two sons with muscular disabilities. She couldn't find adequate schooling for them in Florida, so both now attend a special needs school in Wisconsin.

David Lawrence Jr., co-chairman of the Children's Movement, had an answer for her: Improving the state of Florida's special needs education will be "fundamental" to the group's mission.

Parents in the room nodded with approval.

Lawrence, former Miami Herald publisher, spoke to about 100 parents, teachers and child advocates Monday as part of the kickoff of the campaign, a statewide, nonpartisan effort to raise awareness about Florida's children.

The event, at the Holiday Inn at 3535 Ulmerton Road, was sponsored by the Children's Movement. The purpose of the "Milk Party," Lawrence said, is to encourage business leaders and politicians to push for issues such as quality children's health care and parent education.

"I've worked on these issues in the local arena, and out of that came the wisdom that this could be done through the whole state," Lawrence said after the rally. "There has been no bipartisan group gathered like this in my lifetime or in your lifetime."

The rally was one of four that took place throughout the state Monday. The others were in Miami, Orlando and Tallahassee.

Lawrence admonished the state for planning to spend $2.7 billion to construct a network of high-speed trains when, he said, it cannot adequately fund education and child welfare programs.

Lawrence trotted out local educators and activists from both sides of the political divide. Speakers included Pinellas County school superintendent Julie Janssen, former University of South Florida president Betty Castor and Hispanic public opinion researcher Sergio Bendixen.

"I think we have the potential to become one of the most powerful political forces in the state of Florida," Bendixen said.

As for Leonard, she said the rally gave her hope.

"I was intrigued by it," she said. "I'm optimistic that with this kind of bipartisanship, and by seeking to involve the community, this group is likely to make a difference."

'Milk Party' kickoff draws supports in Clearwater 08/09/10 [Last modified: Monday, August 9, 2010 10:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Police: Uber driver's gun discharges during fight at Adventure Island in Tampa

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — An Uber driver's gun went off Sunday at Adventure Island during a fight between the driver and two passengers.

  2. Baker cautious on Pride politics


    Rick and Joyce Baker strode down Central Avenue Sunday amid rainbow flags, corporate booths, and blaring music of the St. Pete Pride Festival.

    St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Rick Baker chats Sunday with people at the St. Pete Pride Festival. As mayor, Baker did not sign a Pride parade proclamation, but now he says he would.
  3. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.
  4. Lightning among early suitors for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he planned to explore free agency for potential needs, which include bolstering his blue line and adding a wing or two.

    Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who can be a free agent Saturday, counts the Lightning among his early suitors.
  5. Senate leaders try to appease members as support for health bill slips


    WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders scrambled Sunday to rally support for their health care bill, even as opposition continued to build outside Congress and two Republican senators questioned whether the bill would be approved this week.

    Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday, is one of the five Republican senators who announced they cannot support the health care bill as drafted.