Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Importance of Advocacy

There is an old Barry Manilow song entitled, One Voice. This song begins with the words,

“Just one voice singing in the darkness,
All it takes is one voice
Singing so they hear what's on your mind
And when you look around you'll find
There's more than one voice singing in the darkness
Joining with that one voice
Each and every note another octave
Hands are joined and fears unlocked”

This song could easily be about advocacy. It is important that you speak up and promote the service that you provide, day in and day out, in the after-school program. The work that you do each day is absolutely amazing! What are some after-school stories that you can share. Do you have a story about a first grader who says that he is doing well because, “She told me I was smart, so I am”, as he points to his program leaders? Could you share about a youngster who is thrilled to have the opportunity to debrief his class—even though it does give him “tingling fingers”? Or maybe you could share about the young teenage girl who is able to go to the prom because the program leader organized a “dress-sharing” party with her friends who were happy to share last year’s prom dress with someone else?

One of my favorite true stories was the young man who thanked his program leader for “liking him” when he wasn’t very likeable and had seen to it that his parents were able to see some positive things about him when she talked with them at the end of each program day. He ended his speech by saying he had “turned his life around” and was doing well in school and owed it to the support he had been given in the after-school program.

Share your successes and struggles with those who have political clout or with others who will join with your one voice to create a cacophony of sound celebrating the successes of your after-school program.

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