The U.S. presidential election this past November stirred an unprecedented amount of interest, not only among those casting ballots but also among the nation’s youth. The diversity of the candidates and their running mates helped children everywhere come to realize that all people have a voice and can contribute to forming a better country. But now as President-elect Barack Obama is ready to be sworn into office on January 20th, how can parents build on that excitement to maintain their children’s newfound interest in politics?

Enter the Web of Dreams.

The Legacy Project -- a national education initiative with the nonprofit Generations United in Washington, D.C. – created the Web of Dreams to get kids thinking about their own future and that of the country. Families, schools, youth organizations, and other groups throughout the United States are welcome to participate.

If you’d like to get your child involved, the first step is creating a Dream Star. (While the Legacy Project’s website has a basic pattern, kids are encouraged to make and decorate stars to reflect their own individuality.) On the star, have your child write his name as well as a dream for his own future or for the future of the nation. Since the purpose of the star is to serve as inspiration to others, hang it somewhere in the house where it can easily be seen. If other parents you know are interested in getting their kids involved too, see if you can get permission to make a display of stars for a school bulletin board, a hallway at the local library, your town hall, or other public place in your community.

The second part of the Web of Dreams involves constructing a message for the new president. Gather together as a family and talk about dreams, concerns, and how to make the world a better place. Then, let your children come up with a written document that reflects what things they think are most important to share. The Legacy Project will collect and deliver these messages to the president-elect for his inauguration.

The final part of the Web of Dreams is the submission process. Using this online form, report how many children created Dream Stars and send the message written for Obama. Since many submissions are posted for others to read, your child may enjoy discovering what other kids wrote (as well as looking for his own posted message).

As of early January, more than 1,500 young people had created Dream Stars, with that total expected to grow by leaps and bounds during the week before Inauguration Day.

“The Web of Dreams is about education and it’s about giving children a voice. It’s a chance for young people to participate directly in a legacy moment that will affect their future,” states Legacy Project Chair Susan V. Bosak. “Listen to the dreams of children. It empowers them, and it reminds us of hopes we may have forgotten or assumed impossible as adults.”

What are some of those hopes children are expressing? Consider a few of these excerpts from individuals and groups that have already submitted messages for the president-elect:

  • “Could you stop the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, because more and more soldiers are dying every day and every night? We want to know when you will bring home the troops. We hope we don't have another war, so would you work toward world peace and end all wars?”
  • “I wish we could find a cure for cancer.”
  • “We dream of a future with less pollution and a cleaner environment that is safe for people and animals. For example, garbage in the ocean needs to be cleaned up and more waste products need to be recycled.”
  • “I dream of a world where individuals do not feel afraid to express themselves.”
  • “Our students dream that you will help blacks and whites of America come together and be friends, that you will help people be safe and reduce crime, that you will help homeless and poor people, and that you will help schools so kids can learn.”
  • “Could you lower the price of gas? We as a country need to think of alternative fuel sources. We should do more to stop pollution for future generations. We should all work to strengthen our planet.”
  • “We dream of a future where people get along with each other and people everywhere are treated equally so all people can enjoy freedom at home, school, and work.”
  • “I dream that all children will be given the opportunity to dream.”

Click here for more information on the Web of Dreams.