By Katie Landes, Director of GSAN
Last week, I traveled to D.C. to join over 2,000 afterschool professionals and advocates for the National Afterschool Association’s (NAA) 2015 Convention and the Afterschool Alliance’s Afterschool for All Challenge. It’s always so inspiring and energizing to see all of these passionate and talented people in one place and amazing to get to learn from everyone’s hard work and celebrate our successes!
To give you a flavor of this year’s Convention, I got to listen to keynote speakers talk about the power of storytelling, attend workshops on Positive Behavior Supports and Interventions (PBIS) in afterschool programs and expanding summer meals, visit the exhibit hall to meet with over 100 exhibitors, and network with colleagues from Georgia and across the country.
While at the 2015 Convention, I also got to see Georgia’s New American Pathways receive the first-ever Dollar General Literacy Award! This Atlanta-based afterschool program focuses on ensuring that refugee students are academically prepared to enter high school by providing one-on-one support to students who are at the highest risk of falling behind academically, as well as offering a host of support services to families. Out of all of the applicants from across the country, New American Pathways’ Bright Futures Afterschool Program was selected by the Afterschool Alliance and Dollar General for this amazing honor. Congrats, New American Pathways, and thanks for all that you do for Georgia’s young people each day!
As part of this year’s NAA convention, I also participated in the Afterschool Alliance’s Afterschool for All Challenge – one of my favorite times of the year! Over 400 afterschool advocates stormed Capitol Hill, and with the current threats to the 21st CCLC program, this year’s Challenge was especially important. Luckily, this year I had some great partners from Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation, New American Pathways, the Clarkston Afterschool Collaborative, Positive Youth Futures, and Drew Charter School join me up on Capitol Hill! We had great conversations with legislative staffers from Senator Isakson’s, Senator Perdue’s, Congressman Price’s, Congressman Woodall’s, Congressman Allen’s, Congressman Lewis’s, Congressman Bishop’s, Congressman Johnson’s, and Congressman Hice’s offices and urged them to support 21st CCLC and shared stories about why afterschool matters!
It was a great trip and I can’t wait for the next one. In the meantime, don’t forget to keep making your voice heard too. Let you Congressmen know that afterschool programs work and why they are important to you and your community!