It wasn't Philadelphia in 1787, but the framers of a local constitution foresee a strong impact from their own document.
Several community members expressed their collective wishes for all of Merced County's children Tuesday at the Children's Summit, with the adoption of the Children's Bill of Rights.
About 325 people stood and cheered inside St. Patrick's Parish on Yosemite Avenue as each one of the 10 rights was read aloud.
Some of the rights granted to children: the right to knowledgeable and prepared parents, access to quality health care, a healthy environment, exceptional education and guidance.
Brian Mimura, executive director of First Five of Merced County and the author of the bill, said the point of adopting the bill was that it's now a community-owned document.
When Mimura began creating the document, he anticipated that the community would question how much it would cost to implement each right -- or whether the rights could even be enacted.
"This bill is not a community scorecard," Mimura told the crowd. "It's not a basis for criticism or blame. It's not a perfect document by any means. Its adoption today is not an ending point, but a beginning point."
The bill is a common vision shared among educators, law enforcement and other professionals in the field of child development of what Merced County could look like, said Barbara Mumby, program manager for First Five of Merced County.
"Now we can come together to develop steps to make this a reality," she said.
Jerry Tello, director of the National Latino Fatherhood and Family Institute and the event's speaker, told the audience their commitment to children was of the utmost importance in terms of creating a healthy community.
"All it takes is a will, and all it takes is knowledge that if you don't make that commitment, children will miss something," Tello said. "If you don't make that commitment, someone else will and it may not be the right one."
As Tello spoke, Valerie Anthony sat in her chair and nodded in agreement.
Anthony is the founder of Total Self Insight, a Merced nonprofit that teaches people how to communicate effectively to reduce violence.
As someone who works with youth, she thought the adoption of the Children's Bill of Rights was important because program providers -- caught up in red tape -- sometimes lose sight of the children.
Children are what's important, she said, and the bill brings the focus back to them.
Reporter Jamie Oppenheim can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.