Readily following directions to smile big, shout loud and look right at the camera, a group of five Victoria students sat together and said three important words.

“We all count!” they said at the same time.

The students met at the Victoria Public Library early Thursday morning to take part in a 2020 census promotional video being produced by the city of Victoria communications team. The video, which features the kids talking about what participation in the census can mean for the community, is meant to engage and inform residents, said Ashley Strevel, the city’s communications and public affairs director.

“Preparing for the census is a huge opportunity to connect with the community,” Strevel said. “As we hope people will learn after seeing the video, the census is important for our residents, as taking part brings funding, representation and so much more to Victoria.”

On a nationwide scale, the U.S. Census Bureau on Tuesday unveiled highlights of advertisements designed to reach 99% of all U.S. households and communicate the importance of responding to the 2020 Census.

But the city’s video will help bring a local feel to the national effort, Strevel said. All of the participating kids were children or relatives of city staff.

“Having kids participate in the video shows that taking part in the census applies to our real area, that it’s more than just a national effort,” she said. “These real, local kids have real stakes in what can come from an accurate census count.”

Ruben Gonzalez, 9 and Sarah Gonzalez, 7, were among the students participating Thursday morning. The two siblings are students at Nazareth Academy. Laura Gonzalez, the kids’ mother, who works with the city’s finance department, said she was glad they were taking part in the video because it’s a way to be involved in an important community effort.

“I don’t think they understand what (the census) means yet, but when they’re older and they do understand, I think they’ll be proud they were a part of this,” she said.

Paige Fulgham, 11, said she was excited to be included in the video. Paige is the daughter of Julie Fulgham, the city’s director of development services.

“I know that the census counts everyone living here, and I know that is important,” Paige said. “Doing this has been fun.”

In the video, the kids highlight after-school activities, parks, road repairs and more as areas that can receive more funding based on an accurate census count.

While public service announcements like the video are meant to be educational and motivational, more importantly, Strevel said, the script the children spent time reading and stating is true.

“Information given during the census will be kept confidential, it really is important to take part and you, all of Victoria’s residents, really do count,” she said.

Strevel said the video will likely be finished and air mid- to late February. It will be shown on television, online on a variety of websites and by numerous organizations throughout the next few months leading up to April 1, when census day is observed nationwide.

“So let’s make a difference in our future,” read the last line of the video script. “Start here. Visit 2020census.gov.”

Morgan Theophil covers local government for the Victoria Advocate. She can be reached at 361-580-6511, mtheophil@vicad.com or on Twitter

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