By Charlotte Ennis Age 12
Kid Scoop Media
Not many people can say they’ve been escorted out of the White House. Even fewer can say they successfully got back in. On Monday, April 10, 2023, the Monday after Easter, the White House held its annual Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn, and I was fortunate enough to cover the event as a reporter with Kid Scoop Media.
As we walked in, our escort cleared a path. The intimidatingly long line of people reached farther than I could even see! I was suddenly glad I didn’t have to wait in the line of thousands.
For two hours, we watched kids run around the South Lawn laughing and picking up colorful easter eggs. There were different areas with activities, and plenty of costumed characters like Snoopy and Grover to entertain. Eventually, the Bidens emerged to watch the festivities. They cheered on the egg rolling, and Dr. Jill Biden spoke first with her opening remarks.
The theme of the day was EGGucation (ha!), and Dr. Biden spoke about her experience as a teacher and working with kids. One new feature of the Egg Roll this year was a dedicated sensory-friendly session that was accessible and inclusive to all, including children with disabilities.
President Biden spoke next, emphasizing, “Welcome to the White House, your house.” Little did I know, I’d be escorted out of my house soon enough.
We left the South Lawn, meeting up with a White House employee in a conference room near the Oval Office, and I was nervous and excited. We prepared for the upcoming press briefing, with only minor stress and a couple of heart attacks (mine). After submitting our question, an intern came in to inform us that everyone with pink badges had to leave the building. (Guess who had pink badges?)
Without an escort or access back onto the South Lawn, we left the gated area. It took around an hour of waiting in a coffee shop and emailing before we got an email from the Press Office Chief of Staff Yemisi Egbewole, letting us know we could come back in. It turned out that there was a miscommunication and we were not supposed to leave in the first place. (Whew!) That meant I would be able to ask my question at the press briefing after all.
We went back to the press room, and for the next two hours we were with White House correspondents. One of my favorite moments was when I stood at the podium of the press secretary and was joking with the reporters. I was able to practice asking my question, and we hung out and waited for the briefing to start.
Finally, the press briefing began.
First, the Easter Bunny came to the podium and passed out treats. There was some laughter and joking, which lightened the mood. Next, Admiral John Kirby came to speak about current events and the tone got much more serious. Later, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stood at the podium and took questions from reporters.
Towards the end, she acknowledged me and allowed me to ask my question: “Recently, the number of children with mental health issues is on the rise. How is the White House positioned to help specifically kids?” In response, she told us about a phone number, 988, which you can call or text anytime if you want to talk about anything. And the White House has done even more, by funding schools so they hire counselors and psychologists, that way every kid has someone they can talk to.
Ms. Jean-Pierre also pressed on the importance of mental health, adding that “mental health issues affect so many people, including children, as you just laid out, and kids across the nation. And the COVID-19 pandemic, sadly, disrupted routines and relationships, and led to increases in social isolation, anxiety, and learning challenges.”
Even though my heart was racing, I was excited that Ms. Jean-Pierre took my question, and was glad that the White House is helping kids. Overall, it was a great experience, and this was one Easter I will never forget.