HARTFORD — Speaking behind a podium on the steps outside Connecticut’s Old State House, newly inaugurated kid governor Reese Naughton detailed her vision for her year-long term in office.
Naughton, a fifth grade student at Oshana Elementary School in Southington, had run her campaign on spreading positivity and improving the mental health of state residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Kid Governor program, now in its sixth year, is sponsored by the Connecticut Democracy Center.
Naughton, who was joined Friday morning by her parents and sworn in by Secretary of State Denise Merrill, explained in her inaugural address she was inspired to spread positivity when the pandemic struck last March. Her peers were able to watch her address remotely in classrooms throughout the state.
“Like so many of you, I couldn’t see my friends. I had to stay at home and had to get used to wearing a mask,” Naughton said. “This made me have so many feelings that I realized other kids might be having: sadness, loneliness and isolation. When I had the opportunity to run for kid governor I did it to help others not feel this way. Positivity is so important for our mental health. And I believe my platform — ‘Be Positive Pandemic Perseverance’ — will help improve the mental health of Connecticut residents.”
Naughton said she will need the help of her fifth grade peers to obtain her objectives, including spreading inspirational and uplifting messages across the state. She outlined plans to brighten the lives of nursing home residents by making cards to mail or share virtually. She unveiled plans for a poster contest, urging her fellow fifth graders to participate.
The new Kid Governor also encouraged students to take care of their mental well being through safe outdoor activities.
Naughton was chosen from a pool of seven finalists, in an election that saw more than 6,000 ballots cast by fellow fifth graders.
Houda Jaouad, a fifth grader at Casimir Pulaski Elementary School in Meriden, was also sworn in as a member of the Kid’s Governor cabinet. Jaouad had run a campaign to end body shaming.
Congressional leaders and other officials congratulated the incoming cabinet as well as the outgoing Kid Governor Myra Stanfield and her peers.
State Commission of Education Miguel Cardona, who is President Joe Biden’s nominee for U.S. Secretary of Education, congratulated Naughton in a video message.
“... your issue of social emotional well being and safety during this pandemic is awesome. I know you’re going to do great work for Connecticut,” Cardona said.
Connecticut Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz also congratulated Naughton.
“It’s great to see another smart and talented young lady elected kid governor of Connecticut,” Bysiewicz said, adding each of the six kid governors elected to date have been girls. “Ladies, you’re on a roll.”
Bysiewicz told the new Kid Governor hers and the voices of other students are “so important.”
“We need your great ideas to keep moving our state forward,” Bysiewicz said.