Alayna Garcia speaks to the Keizer City Council. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
At age 10, Alayna Garcia has spoken in front of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, the Keizer City Council and the Salem-Keizer Public School Board. She presented them with a video she made for her campaign for Oregon’s Kid Governor.
“I’ve been in that building but I’ve actually never gotten to go to one of those things [city council meeting] and those are really important so it was kinda interesting for me,” she said.
Alayna, a fifth grader at Forest Ridge Elementary School, was a finalist Oregon’s Kid Governor and made it to the top seven.
Alayna with Keizer Mayor Cathy Clark. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
Alayna’s platform is kid safety, she made the acronym SHINE to help kids be safer. “Me and my mom were trying to think of my three point plan and I remembered this other top seven candidate from last year that did an acronym that was BEAT bullying and we tried to come up with an acronym,” Alayna said.
SHINE stands for Stranger danger, Helpers to trust, Internet awareness, Know your numbers, and Everybody in a group. Her mom, Janelle, also assisted when it came to helping earn some votes.
“We were going to do Smarties and do ‘Be SMART and vote for Alayna,’ she said. “But my mom bought a bunch of Starburst [candy] when we decided on SHINE.”
When Alayna found out she was one of the finalists, “I had to be a little secretive about it because my teacher was going to announce it when we got back to class.”
Some of the other finalists’ platforms were helping kids with disabilities, recycling and helping the ecosystem and finding homes for dogs and cats.
“It was kinda cool to find out that so many people wanted to help Oregon become a better place, I think the experience over all was really cool,” she said.
She also made some fans closer to home.
“It astounds me,” said Rickey Garcia, Alayna’s father, “She’s taken it on and she’s 10 years old and she’s doing these things that I would expect high schoolers to be doing.”
What most impressed me about it was, even though she didn’t get elected, she still wanted to get her message out to schools,” her dad said.
When she visited the newspaper for an interview, Alayna brought along a sign to put in the office window.
“Even if you don’t win or get selected, you can still move forward by thinking of new ways to help with the problem,” Alayna said. “Maybe turn SHINE into a character for like a children’s book.”
Her dad suggested a fairy, but Alayna is certain SHINE is a pixie.
“The most fun part was having my friends at school help me with it.” she said. “I would encourage kids to do what I’m doing. Even if they don’t win, they can still try to progress with their topic.”