For Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week, we asked a number of alumni of our Afterschool Ambassador program to reflect on how their experience as Ambassadors shaped their work and careers. This is the third of four posts in the series.
Angela Henry, Kansas, 2003-2004
Our afterschool program, SAFE BASE, has created lasting change in our rural county the past 18 years – from creating a safe, nurturing environment with learning opportunities not otherwise available, to providing for basic needs such as dental treatment for more than 700 students. Many of our outcomes have shown success that we can measure today, while other accomplishments will take years to demonstrate their true impact.
Initially, advocacy felt awkward to me. But as a member of the inaugural class of Afterschool Ambassadors for the Afterschool Alliance, I learned how to use my voice to advocate, share the importance of our work, and recognize that I had the ability to positively impact long-term outcomes for students, families and communities.
As a result of my experience in the Afterschool Ambassador program, I had the opportunity to represent the rural United States, advocating for much-needed additional afterschool funding – even providing testimony to members of the House and Senate in Washington, D.C. I have been asked to present about our program at the national level at least six times. And the program created countless wonderful opportunities this for networking!
Julie Wild-Curry, Alaska, 2002-2003
I always feel very fortunate to be chosen for a new project or gain new knowledge by entering into a slightly different realm. Of course, it can also be a little uncomfortable! Sixteen years ago, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to become Alaska's Afterschool Ambassador – and was looking forward to being crowned and wearing a sash naming me such! (Kidding!)
I was familiar with the Afterschool Alliance and its advocacy work on behalf of afterschool programs, but not as familiar with all the intricacies of working with public policy makers and having an important influence by mobilizing support for afterschool during some critical periods. The Alliance proved incredible, offering partnership, training, and practical support, and it really sparked my interest and desire to be more involved in advocacy work on behalf of afterschool programs in Alaska and across the nation.
The Ambassador program was a huge stepping stone into more connections/networks and education and the power of many voices. It also led to my being nominated for the first class of the White-Riley-Peterson Fellowship Program, and the honor of taking part in an experience that I am so appreciative of and involved in to this day.
I have made so many new friends and mentors through my Afterschool Ambassador experience and am really enjoying sharing the knowledge gained with the next generation, when they are interested! I am passionate about the field of afterschool and feel blessed for the wonderful experiences and amazing people I have met during this journey.
Probably the key thing I’ve learned: I have a voice, you have a voice, and together we have much more influence when we gather to share the impact afterschool has with our children across the nation.
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