It's been a little over a year since we launched Start School Later and I'm amazed at our progress. We're a small, strictly volunteer organization right now, so we're all wearing many hats.
I'm the website/online group administrator, newsletter publisher and Twitter operator for one of our official Twitter handles, @StartSchoolL8r.
I contacted Terra Snider after her first "We the People" petition, sponsored by the White House, got removed after a series of technical glitches, fuzzy changing rules and a failure to meet an impossible 30 day deadline. I urged her to continue the fight, because there were many signatures on her petition, which was now lost in cyberspace.
Starting over from scratch, she used a grassroots petition site and started a new petition in November 2011. I built the website and over many meetings (and lots of coffee and munchies) in my dining room, a small group of us formulated the beginnings of an organization that could stay the course and continue advocating for student sleep needs on a national level and even after the current set of students (and parents!) graduated.
6200+ signatures later, we have experienced obstacles, primarily due to ignorance and outright rejection of the importance of sleep cycles when determining school bell schedules. But we have also seen tremendous growth, both in our local chapters (6 and counting!), partner organizations working with us and our prominence as a national resource for districts pursuing safe school start times.
We've been growing and maturing as an organization. We are officially a non-profit organization and are raising funds to file for 501c3 status. Our website is becoming the go-to resource as a national clearinghouse for information on early school start times. Our website has a public forum to engage discussion and our local chapters are leading the charge in their communities to bring awareness to the sleep needs of our youth and how our current school systems don't allow it.
Aside from my work at Start School Later, I am a full-time mom to 3 great kids, ages 8, 5 and 3. It is my hope that by time my 3rd grader hits high school, he will not have to go to school in the dark early morning hours.
Thanks to Patch readers like you, this may someday become a reality.
Maribel Ibrahim, The Frugal Writer, created www.StartSchoolLater.net and is a Co-Founder of Start School Later, Inc., a grassroots non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that the health, safety and equity of children are protected when determining school start times. Maribel’s Patch blog has recently been ranked in the Top 100 out of over 22,000 bloggers in the Patch network.