Think about it: There’s a law on your town’s books that you think is unreasonable. It affects you personally—not in a life-or-death way, but it really bothers you. You could try to get the law changed, but that would mean doing some research, asking others for support, and—most dauntingly—appearing in person before the Town Council to make your case. Do you risk not getting the support, risk being embarrassed in front of a lot of people, and, after all your effort, risk having your idea rejected?
Dane Best took all those risks—and he’s only nine years old.
Dane, a third-grader, lives in the small town of Severance, Colorado, which gets almost four feet of snow every year. Building forts and snowmen, and throwing snowballs are part of winter’s charm for kids. But in 1921 throwing snowballs was declared illegal in Severance; snowballs were declared “missiles,” and in Severance, with all its snow, the law said you couldn’t throw missiles at people, animals, buildings, trees, or any other property.
Dane Best thought this law was dumb. He asked a town official how it could be changed and was told how complicated that would be. Silly boy.
But Dane took it on. He drew up a petition, got his classmates to sign it and to join him in writing letters to officials. Then he appeared at a city council meeting to make his case, complete with slide show. “The law was created many years ago,” he told them. Today’s kids need a reason to play outside.” He added background information on his slides: “Research suggests that a lack of exposure to the outdoors can lead to obesity, ADHD, anxiety, and depression. Kids want to have snowball fights without breaking the law. Kids want to have a voice in our town.” His closer: “The children of Severance want the opportunity to have a snowball fight like the rest of the world.”
The council voted unanimously to overturn the law, and Dane threw the first legal snowball in almost a hundred Severance years. Severance also has a law that says only dogs and cats are legal pets. Dane has a pet guinea pig. He’s preparing his next case.