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The Kids Campaign

Lily Thorpe gets a signature for her petition seeking an increase in the tobacco tax.
Jeff Brady, NPR
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Lily Thorpe gets a signature for her petition seeking an increase in the tobacco tax.
Lily Thorpe sits at a display table at a shopping mall, pushing a petition to increase the tobacco tax.
Jeff Brady, NPR /
/
Lily Thorpe sits at a display table at a shopping mall, pushing a petition to increase the tobacco tax.

Not many pre-teens start their day going through paperwork at their campaign office. But Lily Thorpe, a 10-year-old from Grand Junction, Colo., is far more politically involved than most adults.

After classroom elections and subsequent discussions made her curious about how political issues affect children, she started a political action committee called "Kids Campaign." She has four adult advisers, but the issues she works on are her own. They range from education funding to health care and getting out the vote.

The young activist says even those too young to vote can play a role in the political process. "We're part of our community too and we should have a say," she tells NPR's Jeff Brady.

One of her issues is a petition drive to raise the state cigarette tax 60 cents. She'd like to discourage smoking, in part because her grandfather died of lung cancer.

She has also sent letters and surveys to political candidates -- including President Bush and Sen. John Kerry -- seeking their specific stances on various issues.

Lily's mother fully supports her daughter's precocious efforts.

"She actually said she wanted to do something about it," Maria Thorpe says. "So my response was: 'Find a way. Don't complain. Just find a way.' And this is her way."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jeff Brady is a National Desk Correspondent based in Philadelphia, where he covers energy issues and climate change. Brady helped establish NPR's environment and energy collaborative which brings together NPR and Member station reporters from across the country to cover the big stories involving the natural world.