What If Wednesday: Making a Difference Where We Can

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Sitting here on a Monday morning, three days removed from yet another school shooting in America. Every time it happens, I have a reaction. This time, I can’t get it out of my head. What needs to happen in order for these tragedies to stop occurring? Personally, what can I do about it? What can we, in the afterschool world, add to the possible solutions? What do the kids need? What are they missing that is leading them to commit these horrific acts?

This will not be an argument about gun control, mental health, or some other factor. It is a question about what can we do in an afterschool setting to help stem the tide of violence at school.

What If we explore the idea of creating more afterschool programs for teens?

The prevailing thought in afterschool seems to be that programs are crucial for elementary students and that programs are beneficial, but not necessary, for secondary students. We need to recognize that secondary students are still kids. They may look like grown-up people and they are gaining new abilities to think and to process emotions and to navigate relationships, but they still need guidance and assistance in getting through the complex world we live in. A solid afterschool program may be just the place to help them develop the skills they will need throughout their lives.

What If we think about the problem at our local level?

It is often heard after an event like this “I didn’t think it could happen here.” We can’t do anything about what is happening in other places but we can be purposeful about what we do in our own setting. Stop thinking in a way that creates a narrative about them, out there where these things happen, and adopt the viewpoint of us, where we are all in this together.

We won’t ever get every kid. There is no way to reach all of them. We won’t stop all of the violence. We know that. However, we can make an effort to reach out to all of the students around us. You never know the impact your kind words or your invitation to be a part of something may have on a struggling student.

What If we are intentional about checking in with our students on a regular basis?

It is so easy to get caught up in the immediate work or in the routine of what we do. Be intentional about asking your kids how they are doing and what is happening with their lives. As adults, we need to listen to what our kids are saying and be aware of the things they may not be saying out loud. Active listening is a skill we can, and should, develop in ourselves. Practice it with your students. Check in with them often.

What If we are intentional about planting seeds of kindness and resilience in our students?

The pattern many of these heartbreaking incidents seem to have is that they are committed by young people who have been slighted or marginalized in some way. We have the opportunity in our afterschool program to weave social emotional learning through all that we do. Talk about the importance of kindness and empathy. Give students the tools to be resilient. Teach them to take a long-term view of their lives. Demonstrate kindness and resilience in your own life. On purpose, we must do everything we can to develop strong social emotional traits in our students.

Bill Milliken, founder of the dropout prevention organization Communities In Schools, holds the philosophy that, “It is relationships, not programs, that change children.” Afterschool programs can serve as the vehicles for caring adults to develop relationships with young people. This includes afterschool programs for secondary students.

Create an afterschool program for high school students.

Build those relationships.

Bring them hope for a positive future.

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Brad Lademann
Afterschool Resource Coordinator
Missouri AfterSchool Network 

Brad Lademann is a dynamic youth speaker with 16 years of public speaking experience and 12 years of experience working with middle school and high school students. He has worked with teens in many capacities including teacher, youth pastor, coach, mentor, and afterschool program supervisor. He currently works with MASN as our Resource Coordinator and provides technical assistance to SAC and 21CCLC grantees.

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Day of Sharing – May 9

On Wednesday, May 9 (Tomorrow!), the Afterschool Alliance will host a “Day of Sharing” in conjunction with the National STEM Summit taking place in Huntsville, AL. The goal of the Day of Sharing is to have youth, parents, afterschool professionals, and advocates share their afterschool stories to highlight the impact of programs around the country. The best part is participating is easy! Here are a few simple steps:

  1. RSVP for the Day of Sharing Facebook event. 
  2. On May 9, log on to Facebook and Twitter and share your afterschool story, using the #ThisIsAfterschool and #AfterschoolWorks hashtags. If your story has a STEM focus or theme, this is great, too, as the event is happening at the same time as the National STEM Summit.
  3. While you’re on Facebook and Twitter, you can share and retweet posts from the Missouri AfterSchool Network (MO_Afterschool) or the Afterschool Alliance (@afterschool4all) to keep the buzz going throughout the day.
  4. You can also visit the Afterschool Alliance website here to find more tools and social media post samples.

We can’t wait to see all of the posts from our Missouri Afterschool community on the Day of Sharing tomorrow!

Also, if you haven’t already, RSVP to join us for our final committee meetings of the year on Thursday, May 10 in Columbia.

Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week: THANK YOU from the MASN Team!

As we celebrate Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week, MASN staff and coaches wanted to share why they love and appreciate afterschool professionals throughout the state.

Clint Darr, Afterschool Regional Educator, Mid-Missouri

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It is an honor for me to have the privilege of visiting, coaching, training, and working alongside the professionals in the field of afterschool. I am constantly amazed to see the great things that are going on in afterschool programs around the state, and I know it is because of the effort, dedication, and passion of the professionals who staff these programs. These professionals embrace the principals of program quality assessment and improvement, and I get to witness first-hand the safe, supportive, interactive, and engaging programs they have created. Thank you for the long hours, hard work, tears and laughter that you give for your students and for the difference it makes in their lives!

Terri Foulkes, Executive Director

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My boys have developed their closest friends as a result of their afterschool program.  Afterschool gives them time to talk, learn, explore, and play with other kids which helps them to connect with one another.  I am thankful for afterschool staff throughout the state that take the time to get to know each child and help them to feel comfortable being themselves, explore their interests, and develop new talents and skills. 

Casey Hanson, Policy and Communications Coordinator

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In my role, I get to not only witness the work being done on the frontlines, but also the advocacy program staff are doing outside of the work day with community leaders and policymakers to make sure their programs are supported and sustained. I am so impressed by the level of passion and dedication the professionals in Missouri demonstrate on a daily basis.

Thank you to all of the professionals in our state who spend long hours and sometimes hard days to ensure that youth have a safe place to be, where they can find a sense of belonging, explore and discover their passions, and learn to be their best selves. Your work is invaluable to communities throughout our state. 

Brad Lademann, Afterschool Resource Center Coordinator and Regional Educator

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The thing I love most about afterschool is the opportunity for staff to be creative in furthering the education of their students. Whether the creativity comes out in a lesson or in who the program may work with as a partner, the students in afterschool get to continue learning in ways that are not typically seen in a regular day classroom.

To all of the afterschool professionals in Missouri, thank you for making the time, and putting in the work, to plant the seeds of education and hope in the students you work with.

Kay Lewis, Afterschool Regional Educator, St. Louis & East Region

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Thank you to the programs and professionals for promoting partnerships within the communities to meet the diverse and changing need of families!

Sandra Pratt, Afterschool Regional Educator, Southwest Missouri

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I love being a part of a group of individuals that puts “kids first” and makes it their passion, it is energizing and allows me to learn and share with other sites!

Thank you to all the afterschool professionals that help to make youth feel safe and supported and are always willing to go the extra mile to give youth opportunities and encouragement that they need to become engaged in their programs!

David and Connie Toney, Afterschool Regional Educators, Southeast Missouri

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We love afterschool because it provides every single person involved, no matter the age or role, the opportunity to learn new things, expand experiences, make connections, and feel safe, supported, and valued.  

We value those that work in the afterschool field and the work that they do because they care about children—and the development of knowledge, creativity, & personal and social skills.

 

Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week – April 23-27

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This week, we are celebrating the professionals around the state who spend their early mornings, late nights, and summers dedicated to ensuring that youth have a safe space to learn and thrive when school is out – the true Heart of Afterschool.

Afterschool professionals work unconventional hours to support working families and their children. They find unique and innovative ways to engage youth in learning, often disguised as fun, to not just support what happens in school but to expand it. They work to develop and support strong lines of communication between schools and parents. They strive tirelessly to establish strong community partnerships to enhance programming and provide youth with opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have. They change lives on a daily basis, and we must express our sincere gratitude for the vital services they provide.

Those among many other reasons are why the Missouri AfterSchool Network is proud to join the National Afterschool Association (NAA) in its celebration of the third annual Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week, April 23-27, to recognize and thank the Heart of Afterschool.

The Contest

We want to reward one professional or program by highlighting the celebrations occurring around the state. You can enter the contest a few different ways:

  1. Take pictures and post about your program’s celebration for Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week. Tag the Missouri AfterSchool Network on Facebook or @MO_Afterschool on Twitter so that we can recognize your entry.
  2. Create a post on Facebook or Twitter (and tag us!) about an afterschool professional who you work with or who has had an impact on your life.
  3. If you are an afterschool professional, share why you love working with youth and families in afterschool or summer learning programs on Facebook or Twitter and tag MASN.

The Prize

The winner will be randomly selected at the end of the week, and will receive an awesome afterschool swag bag to help support you in your work in afterschool and summer learning programs.

Other Ways You Can Participate 

Our friends at NAA have offered these awesome ways for professionals, afterschool advocates and community members to participate in Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week. Check them out:

1) Share the news with your staff, youth in your program, families and members of your community! Click here for ideas and inspiration.

2) Access the toolkit for downloadable graphics, sample social posts and a promotional video and more! Include the hashtag #heartofafterschool in your posts!

3) Order swag! Buttons, t-shirts and more are available in the online store here.

4) Send a Press Release to your local media and encourage your local and state officials to proclaim April 23-27, 2018 as Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week. Click here for templates.

5) Help Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week Go Viral! Follow these instructions to participate in our social media campaign. You can also find the campaign at http://bit.ly/SupportAPAW.

Spring Advocacy: Afterschool for All Challenge

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This week, a team of Missourians will travel to Washington DC to participate in the Afterschool for All Challenge. The Challenge is an annual event that brings advocates from all 50 states to the nation’s capital to share with legislators the importance and value of afterschool for youth, families, and communities.

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Maya Irvine, 2018 Youth Ambassador, giving her speech.

Missouri is proud this year to have Maya Irvine participating as one of only five youth selected nationwide as part of the Afterschool Alliance’s Youth Ambassador program.

Read more about Maya and the great work she is doing here.

Even if you aren’t able to travel to DC, there are many ways you can participate in the Challenge from home.

  • Call your Congressman/woman or Senators’ offices and set up an time to meet with district staff to talk about your program; or invite them out for a site visit!
  • Participate in the Challenge via Social Media
  • Contact Congress on April 19 when the team of Missourians are making their office visits. Use this tool from the Afterschool Alliance to make it easy!

Sample Social Media Posts 

  • “Thanks, @RoyBlunt for supporting #21CCLC in FY18. Now, please ensure strong support continues in the FY19 budget #AfterschoolWorks”
  • “Just called Senator @clairecmc’s office to voice support for the #21CCLC program. #AfterschoolWorks for youth, families and communities throughout Missouri!”
  • “We know #AfterschoolWorks and today we’re sharing with our legislators as part of the #A4AChallenge”

The Afterschool Alliance also has this great social media toolkit to help you make the most of the day.

Twitter Handles for Missouri Delegation

  • Senator Blunt: @RoyBlunt
  • Senator McCaskill: @Clairecmc
  • Congressman Lacy Clay (District 1): @LacyClayMO1
  • Congresswoman Ann Wagner (District 2): @RepAnnWagner
  • Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (District 3): @RepBlainePress
  • Congresswoman Vicky Harztler (District 4): @RepHartzler
  • Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (District 5): @RepCleaver
  • Congressman Sam Graves (District 6): @RepSamGraves
  • Congressman Billy Long (District 7): @USRepLong
  • Congressman Jason Smith (District 8): @JasonSmithMO

 

We hope that whether you’re joining the team in DC or helping back here in Missouri, you will join voices from across the country this week to let our legislators know that Afterschool Works for Missouri!

Spring Advocacy: 2018 Child Advocacy Day

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Each year, the Missouri AfterSchool Network is one of many organizations which helps to plan the annual Missouri Child Advocacy Day. This annual event brings together child advocates from throughout the state and across disciplines to let Missouri legislators know our unified message – Kids are our BEST investment.

This year, Child Advocacy Day takes place tomorrow, April 3 in Jefferson City. Check out more details here: http://childadvocacyday.org.

If you are planning to attend, make sure to stop by MASN’s exhibit table in the 3rd Floor Rotunda and say hello! Even if you can’t make it to Jefferson City, we would love for you to participate from home.

Here are a few ways you can add to the impact of Child Advocacy Day from home:

  • Participate via Social Media by tweeting at your Reps and Senators. Use these Sample Tweets or create your own:
    • “Just had a great visit with @legislatorsname in Jeff City for #MOCAD2018! #AfterschoolWorks”
    • “@legislatorsname, in Missouri, kids are our BEST investment! Please support our children at all stages of life, including during out of school time. #MOCAD2018 #AfterschoolWorks
    • “@legislatorsname, couldn’t make it to #MOCAD2018, but know that children are Missouri’s most valuable resource. Please make sure to support our children during this year’s legislative session.”
    • “@legislatorsname, couldn’t make it to #MOCAD2018, but would love to show you how #AfterschoolWorks for children and families in our community. I will follow up to schedule a time for you to come visit!”
  • Contact your Senator or Representative’s office and set up an in-district meeting or a site visit – MASN can help once you have the meeting set!

 

Whether you can travel the distance or not, it is important that we let legislators know in Missouri, kids are our BEST investment! Join the over 500 advocates from around the state by taking these quick steps to participate in Child Advocacy Day from home on April 3.

2018 Celebration of Afterschool Recap

 

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Last week, MASN hosted its third annual Celebration of Afterschool Luncheon and Conference at Tan-Tar-A Resort and Conference Center in the Lake of the Ozarks. The annual event is an opportunity to recognize the hard work being done by professionals, partners, administrators and champions to ensure that all Missouri youth have access to high-quality afterschool programs.

This year, MASN honored Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (District 3) and Senator Roy Blunt as 2018 Statewide Afterschool Champions, for their work at the federal level to ensure support for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program. Congressman Luetkemeyer was there to accept his award, and Hannah Cleeton, Regional Representative for Senator Blunt, accepted the award on his behalf.

During his award acceptance, Congressman Luetkemeyer discussed the importance of afterschool programs, particularly in rural communities. He emphasized the importance of STEM learning in afterschool, and how the exposure to tech could play a key role in helping to close the national tech skills gap.

MASN also honored Maya Irvine from Camdenton, MO who was one of five youth selected nationwide to participate in the Afterschool Alliance’s inaugural Youth Ambassador Program. Maya will dedicate time throughout the year to a project that highlights the value of afterschool programs, and will also join the Missouri team in Washington DC during the Afterschool for All Challenge in April to speak with the state’s Congressional delegation.

In addition to these special honorees, MASN also honored staff members throughout the state for reaching career and educational milestones, programs for their milestones and achievements, and partners and administrators who support afterschool in their communities.

See the full list of 2018 Celebration of Afterschool Honorees here.

You can also view additional Celebration of Afterschool pictures on our Facebook page here. 

In the future, the Celebration of Afterschool Luncheon will continue as part of the annual MOSAC2 Conference. This Fall, the event will be held at the Lodge of the Four Seasons at the Lake of the Ozarks, November 1-4. Registration will open later this Spring, so be sure to check back at http://moafterschool.org for more information.

Congratulations to all of our awardees, and thanks for all that you do to support youth and families afterschool everyday!