United Way of Florida kicked off Children’s Week with the “Hanging of the Hands” ceremony.

The ceremony took place inside of the Capitol where dozens of volunteers spent hours stringing together hands and hanging them throughout the Capitol Rotunda.

Jason Zaborske, one of the coordinators for Children’s Week, said, “Twenty years ago Governor Lawton Chiles and other early child care and education professionals decided to start Children’s week with the hands as a symbol to remind legislators to take care of our most precious resource the children.”

The “Hanging of the Hands” is a tradition that began in 1986 through the Florida Children’s Forum with the help of several child care central agencies.

Prior to Children’s Week, local Early Learning Coalitions reached out to child care centers to encourage children to create the paper cut-out hands. Thousands of hands were collected by ELC’s throughout the state and sent to the Big Bend location as a repository. Betty Lindsey, a first time volunteer and a special education teacher for five years at FAMU DRS says that “I have to make sure my school is represented.”

“It’s rewarding to see students come along way and excel, that’s why I’m here now because I want all students to be included in the state of Florida,” Lindsey said.

Sponsors are a huge part of Children’s Week because they provide funding and other necessary items to hand out to the thousands of children and families who attend these events.

Jim Wiley, a representative of Florida Kiwanis a state wide service organization said, “Florida Kiwanis has been involved in this for a number of years and we are proud to write a check to the United Way of Florida in order to be a sponsor for Children’s Week.”

The three-story display of artwork by Florida’s children will remain in the Capitol throughout the remainder of Children’s Week.

As the artwork hangs in the state Capitol where many policy decisions are made, the artwork serves to encourage lawmakers to give a hand to issues that promote the health, safety and the well-being of the state’s children.