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A promise to protect: The heart of gun safety and a new approach to advocacy — Power to the Parents, Ep. 4

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In this episode of Power to the Parents, host Ailen Arreaza interviews Jessica Stamen, an activist and co-founder of Momtivist and DemocraShe. Jessica shares her journey into activism, which was sparked by the Sandy Hook tragedy. She discusses her involvement with Moms Demand Action, an organization fighting for sensible gun legislation and gun safety education.

Jessica emphasizes the importance of asking about gun safety and shares tips for parents on how to approach the topic. She also highlights the power of using humor in advocacy and shares examples of her videos that tackle serious issues in a lighthearted way.

Jessica also talks about her work with Momtivist, a group that empowers parents to fight for what they believe in, and her current focus on DemocraShe, a program that empowers high school girls to become leaders and future elected officials. She envisions a future where families and kids are actively engaged in advocacy and making positive change in their communities.

Transcript of Episode 4: A Promise to Protect: The Heart of Gun Safety and a New Approach to Advocacy

Ailen Arreaza, host: Hello and welcome to Power to the Parents, a podcast from ParentsTogether. I’m your host, Ailen Arreaza, and I’m also the executive director at ParentsTogether. And today I’m thrilled to be joined by Jessica Stamen. She is a powerhouse activist. She’s a mom, she’s done some incredible work on lots of issues that matter to kids and families. Welcome to the program, Jessica.

Jessica Stamen: I’m so honored to be here. I’m just thrilled to be here. But thank you so much.

On how the Sandy Hook tragedy galvanized moms to take action…

Ailen Arreaza: We are so excited to have you. I know that you’ve had a long journey doing activism on issues that matter to families. And I wanted you to start off by telling us a little bit about what got you into doing activism as a mom.

Jessica Stamen: So I was a film producer for many years and I was lucky to be able to work on some films that had thematic content, topical films. So I got to dip my toe in using stories to talk about issues. But what really made me become an activist was my oldest was about a year old, maybe two years. I guess a year old.

And I was nursing the baby, and I’m scrolling through Facebook as I always do when I’m nursing and it came up on my feed, the Sandy Hook tragedy came up on my feed. Here I was like with new life in my arms, you know, seeing what had happened to those precious kids and I was like, I mean I’m not alone in this. I know for so many people and especially parents this was a galvanizing moment but I was like not, you know, not on my watch. This can’t happen. This cannot happen to our kids.

“I was nursing the baby, and…the Sandy Hook tragedy came up on my feed. Here I was like with new life in my arms, seeing what had happened to those precious kids and I was like…not on my watch. This can’t happen. This cannot happen to our kids.”

And so I was like, I want to do something. I didn’t know what to do. But a few months later, a friend of mine actually said that she was starting up a local Moms Demand Action chapter. And at that point, I had actually left the film business to become an educator. And so she asked me… Moms Demand Action, as well as fighting for sensible gun legislation, also has an education arm that’s really focused on gun storage, gun safety.

So she said, you know, I know you have an education degree, you’ve been a teacher. Would you be interested in leading up our education arm for our local chapter? So I signed up and I started getting to do gun safety presentations, you know, in my area. And I also got to work, you know, in general with Moms Demand. And at this point, elections started coming up. And so I started canvassing and calling and postcarding with Moms Demand Action. And so that’s really how my job as an activist started.

Ailen Arreaza: Yeah, that story resonates so much. I think our generation of parents, you’re right, Sandy Hook was such a galvanizing moment. And I think we all have this story, this moment of how we remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when that news broke. I remember exactly the restaurant I was in. I was having lunch with a friend. And then just, I remember having this deep need to run to my kids’ daycare — my kids were little, they were in daycare that day — pick them up early and just hold onto them. That’s all I wanted to do, just like hold onto my kids because it was so, so awful.

But I think it’s so beautiful that it sparked this new career for you and this new way of taking so much pain and so much fear that all of us felt and turning it into action. So you got involved with Moms Demand Action. Can you share a little bit about what Moms Demand Action is for our audience who might not know them?

Jessica Stamen: So Moms Demand Action, I actually think was started right after Sandy Hook, sort of in response to Sandy Hook. And it was literally a woman named Shannon Watts, she was a mom. She has like six kids. And she got some other moms together with her around a dinner table, kitchen table. And she was like, what are we going to do?

You know, as moms, we are so invested in this issue, and yet there was not yet a group. There were certainly sensible gun legislation advocacy groups doing amazing work, Brady, Women Against Gun Violence, but Moms Demand Action was really thinking, how can we harness our power as parents to fight for the sensible gun legislation that is going to keep all of our kids safe?

So Moms Demand was founded by Shannon and grew very quickly and grew in a really beautiful way where there were loads of local chapters and moms really were empowering each other and were empowering themselves to get involved any way that made sense for them. So you know, some of them would do marches and some of them would do postcards and some of them would do outreach. And as I said for me, because at that point I had trained as an educator, the education side made sense.

So on the education side, as opposed to the advocacy side, the education side was really about sensible, it was about gun storage. And it was about educating parents, community members about how important gun storage is. You know, we have hundreds of kids every year who are dying because of accidents and because of suicide. And in both of those situations, those are situations where kids got their hands on a gun that they should not have had access to.

And at the time when I started, I don’t think there were any gun storage…well, there were some gun storage laws on the books, but there were no laws mandating that parents be educated about storage. So schools weren’t sending home information. At that time, even doctors’ offices, I don’t think were sending home information. So yes, these laws were on the books in some places, but people didn’t know. And so a big focus that I took on when I was at Moms Demand Action was making sure that schools sent information home to parents.

When I started at Moms Demand, I think there was one city in America that was sending information home to parents about safe storage, which was Stockton, California. And I live in Burbank, California, which is like a suburb of Los Angeles. And I remember I met with our school superintendent and I said, hey, you know, wouldn’t this be a great idea to send information home about safe storage? And he laughed at me. And this wasn’t a public… He laughed at me. And he’s like, never going to work.

Ailen Arreaza: That’s so wild that the principal would laugh at you about that. It’s, you know, it’s such a serious problem. And we know that gun violence is…right now, it’s the number one cause of death in children in our country.

But part of me can resonate a little bit with that principle. And I’ll tell you why, because as afraid as I am about gun violence and as much as I wanna keep my kids safe, having a conversation with another parent about whether or not they have a gun in their home makes me so nervous. It gives me like a pit in the bottom of my stomach because guns are so polarizing. It’s such a tricky thing. I don’t want, I don’t know, I just don’t want to open up that can of worms sometimes. And I have done it, but I’ve had to like psych myself up to ask about it.

So have you found that, and what advice do you have for parents and teachers and principals who are going through this?

Jessica Stamen: So this was a big thing we talked a lot about. With Moms Demand Action, we did a presentation called Be Smart and it was about, you know, gun storage and a big thing we talked about was not only do you have to, of course, secure any home, any guns in your own home, right? If you have a gun in the house, that’s your right. We always say, you know, that is your right to have a gun in the house. But when you have children in the house, it really needs to be locked up in a safe, and the ammunition has to be stored separately.

You know, we heard so many stories about people who would say, you know, my kid couldn’t find my gun. It was in the closet. Or my kid could never access the gun. It was under the bed, right? And I was thinking about like, my kids could find a jelly bean in the…whatever they’re not supposed to find, kids find every time. And so of course, hiding in a closet or underneath a bed, that is not gonna keep it out of kids’ hands.

So anyway, the first priority was always making sure if you have a gun in your home, making sure it’s properly stored, and then absolutely asking people. So I have a couple of examples… You know, a friend of mine said, she, after the Be Smart presentation, decided to ask her father-in-law if there was a gun in the home, because her daughter would play in the in-laws’ house all the time. And so she was like, hey, do you guys have a gun in the house? And he goes, oh, don’t worry, it’s in a coat pocket in the closet. 

Ailen Arreaza: Oh my gosh.

Jessica Stamen: Like, oh, the closet where my child hides during hide and seek? Yes, that’s right, but in grandpa’s head, you know, it was well hidden.

“We definitely encourage people to ask before playdates and to ask family members about guns in the home. You ask about other things before a playdate, right? Like if your kid has allergies…or let me know if you have a dog…. There’s so many things in the home that we would ask about before a playdate.”

So we definitely encourage people to ask before playdates and to ask family members about guns in the home. And what we always say is like, you know, you ask about other things before a playdate, right? Like if your kid has allergies, you’d say, oh, hope you don’t serve my kid peanuts or, you know, let me know if you have a dog, my kid is allergic to dogs or is scared of them. There’s so many things in the home that we would ask about before a playdate. So it can be couched in that kind of conversation.

Another thing we always say is just be transparent about it. Like I say, like, hey, this is really awkward, but I saw this presentation or I heard that kids are finding guns. I do have to ask, do you have a gun in the home? And then what we usually recommend is you say, do you have a gun in the home? And if so, can I ask how it’s stored? Because you don’t want them to feel like you’re the woke police or whatever the phrase is, that you know you’re sort of judging them for having a gun in the home there are many reasons why they might have it. So it’s really about like, hey, I just want to know if you got a gun in the home. You can even say, like, if so I understand, I just need to know how it’s stored because I’ve heard that kids often find guns if they’re not stored in safes.

On using film and humor to get important messages across…

Ailen Arreaza: Yeah. So at the beginning you mentioned that you had a background in film and you’ve used that to create really compelling, incredible content advocating for things like this, especially around gun safety. And so there’s this lovely video that I wanna play a little clip of because it’s hilarious, number one, but it does a really good job of getting this message across. So let’s just take a quick look at that.

Okay, so I just find that so funny and it’s exactly what you were saying before. We ask about all these other things, why do we find it so hard to ask about gun safety and where guns are kept? But how, this is such, you know, gun safety and gun violence is such a difficult and hard topic, and you have managed to use humor to bring attention to it, and I’m curious about the role that humor plays in the advocacy that you do.

Jessica Stamen: Sure, so yeah, so I mentioned I had a background in film and then I became an activist and then I sort of thought, what if I combine the two and started making short films about issues that I was passionate about? And I’ve always been drawn to comedy. I don’t know. I don’t know that I’m that funny myself, but I love comedy. I have a lot of comedy friends. Just comedy is something that appeals to me. 

“There’s a lot of content on issues but so much of it is depressing because a lot of these issues are really sad…. People are more likely to watch something if it’s funny, and…humor is sticky. When we laugh, we remember.”

And I noticed that, you know, there are videos out there certainly on issues, right, there’s a lot of content on issues but so much of it is depressing because a lot of these issues are really sad. And I find that it just becomes noise, people tune it out, like I don’t want to watch that, that’s gonna make me sad. So what I found was when you use humor it cuts through, first of all it, you know, it kind of tricks people into paying attention or you think you’re watching. And that the playdate, the video you referenced, was a really good example where…It’s a video that starts out and you think you’re just watching a funny video about two moms kind of chatting before a playdate. And then you feel like, okay, I’m funny. This is funny. I’m having fun watching it. And then boom, it hits you with a message. And we find, A, that people are more likely to watch something if it’s funny, and B, humor is sticky. When we laugh, we remember.

And so I found that with the video that we made about the playdate and asking about gun safety before a playdate. I mean, I made that video a few years ago. It got a few million views, which was exciting at the time. But now, even years later, people come up to me all the time and say, I asked because of that video, because I remember that video and I asked before a playdate. And I think it sticks because it’s funny.

We did another video. So I have a partner that I work with on all of my videos named Lara Everly. She’s brilliant, she’s a mom too. She has two kids. We both have sons named Leo. A brilliant director. So we write together, and then I produce and she directs. But we did another video last year. You know, this was after the Dobbs decision and realizing how galvanizing abortion was as an issue. But abortion particularly is something that, you know, usually is talked about in a really heavy way. And so we were trying to think like, can we make abortion funny? It sounds crazy, but we were like, how are we gonna cut through? How can we make abortion funny?

So that video, we were really lucky that video kind of went super viral. It’s like all over TikTok, which meant we were reaching a lot of people who political ads don’t normally reach. And I think people really appreciated the humor and I think it really stuck with them. So that’s, again, that’s often I think humor used appropriately and respectfully, humor can be a way to cut through the noise and just really stick with people.

Ailen Arreaza: Yeah, I completely agree. I saw both of those videos independently of even knowing you. And I remember them, they were stuck in my mind because they went very viral and they cut through. And the other thing about them, I think that’s really powerful is that they tap into the parental identity in a really powerful way, right? So you see yourself reflected, especially the playdate one where like, yeah, I’ve had that conversation about, you know, screen time and you know, what’s allowed and what isn’t. Why can’t I have it about gun safety?

So going back to gun safety a little bit, you had shared about your experience trying to get your school to send these letters out. Can you tell me how that ended up and whether your school is doing that now?

Jessica Stamen: Thank you so much. Okay, so after being laughed at by the superintendent, he did agree to talk to the superintendent of Stockton that had already sent out letters to their community and it was a good conversation. So he actually did agree to send out letters in Burbank and now basically, you know, you know, parents, you get all that paperwork before school starts. So now there’s a, you know, a whole single piece of paper that parents have to sign saying that they understand that it is the law that they need to safely store any guns in their home.

And then, so that went really well in Burbank. It got a very positive response. And then we heard that Los Angeles School District, which is the second biggest school district in America, they were considering sending home safe storage information. So I started a petition and I got 2,500 moms to sign it, very easily, by the way. People were very excited to sign it. Delivered it at a school board meeting and the resolution passed. So now Los Angeles USD sends home safe storage information to every child in the district, every family in the district.

“I started getting emails and calls from women in school districts across America saying, how do I get this done in my school district? And I would give them the information, and in most places it passed.”

And it was really cool because I started getting emails and calls from women in school districts across America saying, how do I get this done in my school district? And I would give them the information, and in most places it passed. So I don’t know what the count is, but I would say now probably hundreds of school districts in America are sending home information about safe storage.

Ailen Arreaza: That’s incredible. That’s game changing, you know? That can make such a difference. Okay, so this was your work with Moms Demand Action, but you also went on to start an organization called Momtivist.

On integrating family time into political activism…

Jessica Stamen: Okay, yeah, so that is… So basically, right, I was very involved with Moms Demand Action, but definitely was looking for more opportunities to speak out about issues I cared about, because there were many issues I was passionate about. I think at this point I had baby number two, so I had two little kids at home. And it was actually a friend of mine, I have a brilliant friend named Dr. Alisa Angelone, and she had started this group called Momtivist, as a Facebook group. And we became friends. And I was like, oh my God, let’s build it together. And so we built it to be an in-person as well as online organization. And we ended up having like dozens of events. We call them Progress Playdates.

Parents bring their kids, you have it in someone’s backyard. And an activity we found worked really well was postcarding for candidates we would have the kids color the postcards or the older kids would draw little pictures on the postcards and then on the back we’d say, you know, please make sure to register to vote or please vote for this candidate who supports, you know, gun safety.

“I think so many people feel like activism is over here and parenthood is over here, and I think they go together so beautifully and I think part of that is creating spaces where parents can bring their kids and enter their kids into the conversation.”

So it’s great because, A) I think so many people feel like activism is over here and parenthood is over here, and I think they go together so beautifully and I think part of that is creating spaces where parents can bring their kids and enter their kids into the conversation. Our kids knew why we were postcarding. They knew who we were postcarding for. Even a little kid can understand a lot of these issues. And as I said, the kids loved putting pictures and stickers and all those things in the postcards. It works for letter writing as well. We definitely had other times where we were phone banking or text banking. And then often what we would do is have one adult would do like a little activity with the kids, often kind of related in some way to what we were doing. And then the rest of us would be free to a phone bank and text bank. So yeah, it was really, it was fun. It was really fun. And we built this really beautiful sense of community.

Ailen Arreaza: I love that. And I love what you said about parenting and politics. Just like this thing that happened with Sandy Hook, which just shook parents to the core. And it felt so personal to so many parents. And the idea that parenting is political and everything that we do as parents, which is all about taking care of our kids, making sure they’re safe, we can do better if we have leaders who care about those things as well, right?

Jessica Stamen: Yes. I mean…I think everything, every aspect of parenthood is political, whether it’s thinking about, you know, what kind of education our kids get or if we get paid leave so we can be with our baby and bond with our baby after the baby’s born. I mean, gosh, climate change, I mean, talk about, you know, having to, that’s our kids’ future, that’s our grandkids. So I think every…reproductive rights, I mean, I have two, you know, two kids with wombs, two kids with uteruses, and I really wanna make sure that they have the right to do what they want with their own bodies.

So I think everything is definitely political. And in a way that, again, I think kids, at least my kids, they’re curious, they’re interested. And I think they can make up their mind. I say to them, you can always disagree, but here’s what I’m fighting for, and here’s why I’m fighting, and what do you think about that? Making it a conversation from very early on, I think is really powerful.

Ailen Arreaza: Yes, I love that. Okay, so tell me about your kids. How many kids do you have?

Jessica Stamen: I have three. So my little one, Anna, is six. And it’s really funny because when we started Momtivist, she was a baby and I would wear her in a sling. And I remember, and I was still doing Be Smart presentations. I remember actually after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, after Parkland, we had a Moms Demand Action meeting. And usually like 20 people would show up. That day 400 people showed up, and I had a Be Smart presentation. And anyway, I had the baby in the sling. So I have 400 people who now come up to me and they’re like, I remember you there with the baby. So anyway, baby Anna went to the Women’s March in utero the first time and then in a sling the second time. Anna is six and Leo is eight and my oldest, Hale, is 12.

Ailen Arreaza: And how has your role as an activist shifted as your kids have gotten older, or has it at all?

Jessica Stamen: Yeah, I mean it’s definitely shifted, well, certainly shifted in that, as I said, kind of more and more conversations with them about what they’re interested in and what they care about.

I will say my oldest, Hale, is gender fluid and I have always been passionate about LGBTQ+ rights, like that’s always been near and dear to my heart, but definitely having a child who, you know, Hale was assigned female at birth, is currently using male pronouns, and you know, it makes me that much more passionate about fighting for trans kids, non-binary kids, gender fluid kids. And Hale, of course, is in the fight right with me, which is really beautiful. It’s really beautiful that we can share that.

But, you know, I mean, I have, you know, my son Leo is eight years old and he’s…he’s marched with me, you know, in women’s rights marches. And I think, like, you know, there’s so many issues that kids can understand even if it’s not something that they necessarily personally experience. But I definitely think as we get older, as the kids get older, it’s a little more maybe following their lead and finding what they’re interested in. But they’ve definitely grown up. I mean, they kind of joked, they’re like, “Another march?” But it was easier to take them to marches when they were in the stroller, I could wear them. Sometimes the eight-year-old is like, I’m tired. You know, sometimes you can’t.

Ailen Arreaza: Yeah, I have the same experience. I have so many cute pictures of my kids going to marches when they were little, holding signs. And now that’s not a thing that they’re super interested in doing. And at the same time, we have these really incredible conversations about just what they’re dealing with and how it intersects with politics. Because again, there’s so much intersection between parenting and the world in which we live, which is controlled by politics and influenced by politics. So I love that you’re helping bridge those two worlds in really seamless ways.

Jessica Stamen: Yeah, thanks. And I think what’s nice, what I’m very grateful for is when tragic events happen, we always talk about like, that’s why we fight and that’s why we’re working to change it. And I do think about, you know, if a school shooting happened and you didn’t feel plugged into how to fight against them happening again, I think that feeling of helplessness would be really hard as a parent. And I think that would be hard on a child, right?

But in our house, at least when a school shooting happens, or recently there was this absolute tragic death of this non-binary child Nex, and I tear up even thinking about it. It’s really hard to talk to my kids about that. But what we could talk about was, and that’s why we fight, and that’s why we express, here’s the progress we’ve made in a lot of places and here’s the progress we still have to make to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.

Ailen Arreaza: Right, I mean, I think with my own kids and from working and listening to parents, I hear so often that kids are feeling so much anxiety and so much fear and worry. On gun safety, for example, these kids have to do active shooter drills at school all the time, from the time they’re teeny tiny. And so being able to talk to them about what we’re doing to make that better, to fight back against gun violence, I think is a really powerful way to help them cope with that anxiety and that fear.

Jessica Stamen: Absolutely. I mean, Mr. Rogers said, you know, when tragedies happen and you’re talking to kids about it, look for the helpers, which I agree, but I also think like we can be the helpers, like we should be the helpers. And that’s really empowering to them.

On empowering women and girls to run for office…

Ailen Arreaza: Yeah, yeah, I love that, exactly. Okay, so you have done so many incredible things related to advocacy, and now you’re the co-founder of a group called DemocraShe. So can you tell me a little bit about that group?

Jessica Stamen: Yeah, sure. So, um, DemocraShe was originally founded by a brilliant woman named Sarah Jakle. So you may notice a theme in my life. Brilliant, brilliant women having brilliant ideas. And then I’m so lucky to connect with them and help them build these ideas into reality.

Ailen Arreaza: I love that we’re recording this on International Women’s Day. It’s like, yes, amazing women doing amazing things.

Jessica Stamen: And women, that’s the entire message. This actually could not be a better day to talk about DemocraShe. So Sarah Jakle had been someone I knew in activist circles. She was an amazing, amazing outreach director for an organization that did voter registration. So thanks to Sarah, thousands and thousands of voters were registered. Anyway, so Sarah, she also was a social worker.

And so Sarah had noticed, she had been working with a lot of female candidates and had noticed that you know, these women were so passionate about running, but they didn’t necessarily have the resilience skills that you need to weather the storm that especially hits as a woman candidate, and especially frankly, as an intersectional woman candidate.

As you may know, we are way behind in terms of women represented in elected office. It’s like 30 percent of Congress is female, even though obviously we’re more than 50 percent of the population. Eight percent are women of color, even though that’s over 20 percent of the population. And what Sarah realized was it’s actually not that women get elected at a lower rate than men. Women win at the same rate as men and sometimes even more. Women aren’t running.

So it was like, well, why aren’t women running and why are women falling out of the pipeline? Because when they’re hit by all of these challenges that face women and especially intersectional women, you know, they’re not armed with the resilience skills that would help them. So Sarah realized that the last time men and women equally or males and females equally believed that they can be president or be elected is in high school. So she decided to create a program for high school female identifying students to empower them to become leaders and future elected officials.

So she pitched me this idea. I was like, this is the best idea I’ve ever heard. It hits all the things, like my whole life, what have I been passionate about? Uplifting women, fighting for what you believe in, politics, education, and storytelling. And so much of DemocraShe is really about helping these, helping young women value their voices, helping them tell their stories, helping them value their lived experience and bring it to the table. And then giving them the skills, the resilience they need so that when they’re facing internal barriers as well as external barriers, they can face them and move on.

So anyway, DemocraShe started actually during COVID. We started it together. We built this amazing leadership team of high school girls to help us build a curriculum and to lead workshops. And now we’ve served over 300 girls, we’re growing and growing. And it’s a program where you know, girls get together and learn, you know, kind of classic leadership skills like public speaking and persuasion and advocacy, and also learn these really beautiful resilience skills like grounding and developing an inner best friend and gratitude. Anyway, so it’s been a really beautiful thing to build with Sarah and as I said, we’re trying to grow and grow so we can serve…there’s eight million high school girls in America and we want to serve every single one and let her know that her voice matters.

Ailen Arreaza: That’s amazing. That’s just so inspiring and it makes, gives me so much hope for the future. Right?

“You want a jolt of hope? Sit in the room with these girls. I have to tell you, there are days when I’m feeling low. There are days where I’m not sure what the future holds for our country. And then we get on a workshop with these girls.”

Jessica Stamen: Oh, you want a jolt of hope? Sit in the room with these girls. I have to tell you, there are days when I’m feeling low. There are days where I’m not sure what the future holds for our country. And then we get on a workshop with these girls and they’re from all across America…15, 16 year old girls speaking so passionately about laws they would pass to help disadvantaged communities, or what they would do to help save our planet, or how they can teach their community. These girls are already starting nonprofits. We have a number of our girls who age 16 are already starting their own nonprofits to help their communities. So it’s so hopeful and inspiring and beautiful.

Ailen Arreaza: I love that. Okay, so we’re wrapping up, but I wanted to, this was so inspiring to hear about these girls and how much hope they give you for the future. But I wanted to ask you, you’ve been doing this work for years, advocating on behalf of parents and families and kids. What is your vision for what’s possible for families and kids in our country?

On what’s possible for families and kids across the country…

Jessica Stamen: As I said, I feel like I’ve seen what can happen. I picture these Progress Playdates, and it’s just groups, it’s just families together, fighting for what they believe in, and like just sharing in this beautiful community. And I think that can be possible, you know, nationwide. You know, I think anybody can start their own Momtivist chapter.

You don’t even have to call it Momtivist, but like, anybody who wants to get a group of friends together, get your kids together, and just think, what do we wanna fight for? And there’s easy ways you can do it again. Even things like postcarding are so easy, but it’s so empowering. And then maybe from that, you go toward your calling and your marching.

So that is something I really believe, think of it as like a book club, but instead of…it’s issues, right? And you’re working on those things together in this beautiful community. So, that’s something I definitely hope there’s more of in the future.

And then as I said, seeing these teenage girls in DemocraShe. Like when young women run for office and when we see amazing things. We have seen that at the local level, the state level, national level. We have seen when parents lead, what incredible, incredible things can be done.

Ailen Arreaza: Absolutely. And those progress groups sound so fun, you know? So you can have fun, you can come together, you can fight for what’s right. And it doesn’t have to feel like a chore or completely separate from your regular life. I think there are so many ways to integrate it.

Jessica Stamen: We’re like, we got snacks, we got toys, we got politics. Like it’s, yes, I think you’re so right. Making it fun and making it something that doesn’t feel medicinal, but actually feels like a party, you know?

Ailen Arreaza: Yeah, exactly. It’s going back to what we were talking about earlier, about humor and about sort of like making that connection in a way that is disarming. And so I think you have done an incredible job of filling that niche of disarming folks with incredible advocacy and inspiring them to make change. And I’m so grateful. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Jessica Stamen: Thank you, it was an absolute joy. Thank you so much.

If you want to learn more about DemocraShe, you can just go to and you can learn more about DemocraShe. And if you know female identifying high school students who might want to apply, or if you are one yourself, we’d love to have you. And we’re also launching an incredible online curriculum that’s free to anybody who’s interested. I even think adult women would benefit from it. It’s so empowering. It’s so inspiring. And again, there will be a link to that at

Ailen Arreaza: Okay, so that’s

Jessica Stamen: And finally, if you would like to join Momtivist, we do have a national Facebook group. So just on Facebook, it’s Momtivist, request to add, and I will add you. And definitely, you know, if you would like to learn more about DemocraShe or Momtivist, you can message me on Instagram and I’ll give you any info you need.

Watch Episode 4:


Additional resources

Want to help spread the message about safe gun storage and help make your community safer? The Biden administration’s Office of Gun Violence Prevention has resources to support you!

  • Information and statistics from the Department of Education on safe firearm storage
  • A template for a letter kids can take home from school that you can share with your child’s school administration. This template makes it easy for school principals to communicate with parents and families about safe storage, spreading this useful information throughout your district.

A comprehensive guide from the Department of Justice on the spectrum of safe storage options (note that many are much more inexpensive and easily accessible than some may think), as well as a shortened fact sheet.

Catch Up!

In case you missed it, be sure to check out episode 1 — Crossing paths: The intersection of parenting and politics, episode 2 — Parenting in the age of cyberbullying: A fight for online safety, and episode 3 — Beyond the alphabet: Advocacy for dyslexic learners.

ParentsTogether is a 501 (c)3 nonprofit community of over 3 million parents, caregivers, and advocates working together to make the world a better place for all children and families.