are a great way to show support for your efforts, get the
attention of the community and of decision makers, and bring
about change. Petitions demonstrate group strength. Officials
may ignore you, but the more names you have on your petition,
the harder it will be to ignore your petition. See Handout
5, A Sample Petition.
following tips will help to make your petition effective:
Appearance In general, use standard 8-1/2"
x 11" inch paper. However, for some actions you may
want to be more inventive, for example, creating a giant
petition on a roll of butcher paper. The petition should
not be too hard to mail, however.
Title Give the petition a title so that both
the signers and the receivers know immediately what it is
Purpose Statement Write a statement describing
the problem your petition is addressing, the solution you
are proposing, or the response you would like to get from
officials. This should appear at the top of every petition
page so that people know what they are signing.
Blank Lines Provide blank lines for people
to write any or all of this information:
class, grade, or group to which they belong to
school or hometown
address and telephone number
petitions require addresses as proof that the signers are
taxpayers in the area. Also you may wish to contact some
of your signers again (e.g., to let them know the results
of the petition). For a sample petition, click
Number the lines for easy totaling.
Plan Strategize the times and places where
you are likely to collect the most signatures.
If you plan to take your petition door-to-door, never
go alone. Always get a parent, teacher, or other adult
to go with you.
Smile The better you treat the people you
approach, the more likely they are to sign your petition.
Stay Calm Some people you ask to sign may
disagree with your ideas and try to argue with you. Be ready
to explain your ideas clearly, but remain polite and respectful.
Never speak or act rudely.
Photocopy When youve finished collecting
signatures, photocopy all the pages. Keep them in a safe
place. You may need proof of the signatures, and the addresses
may form the basis of a mailing list.
Present the Petition Choose the recipient
carefully. It should be someone who has the power to act
on your ideas. Try to arrange to present it in person. Bring
along a camera or the press!
Adapted from Barbara A. Lewis,
The Kids Guide to Social
Action (Minneapolis, MN: Free
Spirit Press, 1991).