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The Kid in Charge

Ready to Lead Dom Peters is sworn in as Oregon’s first Kid Governor. ANNA REED—STATESMAN-JOURNAL/AP

Many kids have been bullied. Fifth grader Dom Peters decided to do something about it. He ran for office.

On January 8, Dom, 11, was sworn in as Oregon’s first Kid Governor. Fifth graders across the state elected him. He was one of eight finalists in Oregon’s first annual Kid Governor contest. Its aim is to teach students about government, voting, and the responsibilities of citizenship citizenship STEVE DEBENPORT/GETTY IMAGES the qualities that a person is expected to have as a responsible member of a community (noun) Good citizenship is important to my family, which is why we pick up litter in our town every weekend. .

Dom campaigned with an antibullying message. It appealed to kid voters. “I’ve seen a lot of bullying, and I’ve been bullied,” Dom said at his first press conference. “I want to stop it.”

Oregon’s Kid Governor program is based on a similar program in Connecticut. The hope is that other states will follow suit.

Brian Cofrancesco works for the Connecticut Public Affairs Network. He helped launch Kid Governor in 2015. Government and civic engagement are often not taught before high school, he says. “Our goal was to create a meaningful civics civics TRAVELPIX LTD/GETTY IMAGES the study of the rights and duties of citizens (noun) My civics class took a field trip to the United States Capitol Building. experience for younger students.”

Real Deal

Oregon’s secretary of state, Dennis Richardson, launched the Kid Governor program there. He says it is important for young people to learn how to participate in a democracy democracy BLEND IMAGES—HILL STREET STUDIOS/GETTY IMAGES a form of government in which people make decisions by voting (noun) Because America is a democracy, its citizens vote to choose who will lead the country. . “You want to learn how government works and how to evaluate the candidates you’re voting for,” he told TFK.

As Oregon’s fifth-grader-in-chief, Dom is making a series of videos to teach students about the three branches of government.

Dom will also move forward on a big campaign promise. He is starting the Super Kind Writers’ Club. He hopes to inspire kids to share their stories about the importance of treating others with fairness and sympathy.

“Sometimes, kids see problems from a different perspective than adults, and have different solutions,” he told TFK.

Adults are listening. “Dom is the real deal,” says his teacher, Jo Moore. “Even before running for office, he would step forward to stick up for people.”

Is the Kid Governor planning a career in politics? “I haven’t decided on that yet,” Dom says. “I’m going to see where life takes me.”