A Bold and Warm Welcome
With nearly 2,000 convening at the Hyatt in Atlanta, we knew NAA18 could have felt a bit overwhelming at first. That's why on opening night, the individual states sat together. Witnessing the energy our state affiliates brought with them was impressive, but it was also great to see the participants' support of those states who only have a few represented—proving that we are truly united as afterschool professionals! After an energizing opening session featuring NAA President & CEO Gina Warner, Timiya Clark (aka DJ Torch) and the always-entertaining Meredith Scott Lynn, the individual states convened for separate meetings. NAA also makes a special effort to welcome first-time attendees by handing out VIP ribbons for them to attach to their badges and encourages all participants to make them feel extra welcomed.
The theme for NAA18 was Be Bold. Be Brave. Be Brilliant. Our lineup of keynote speakers certainly carried that theme throughout their presentations.
Global STEM Ambassador Jay Flores encouraged us to "find the STEM behind the child's passion" to get them more engaged in STEM. Erika Petrelli of The Leadership Program wore coveralls on which Convention participants had written words of what it means to be bold, brave and brilliant. She shared her 10 tips for how to #JustBe when connecting with our youth and each other. Erika literally sparkles everywhere she goes and one cannot help but find her positive energy contagious!
On Tuesday, we enjoyed a motivating speech from family advocate and author Byron Garrett, who encouraged us to bring together families, educators and afterschool professionals for a bright future.
At the final General Session, the brilliant Chic Thompson said that we help our youth discover creativity by "being curious first, critical second." Chic's passion and warmth were obviously evident with the standing ovation he received.
Active play, data management, STEM products and Atlanta-area kids participating in demonstrations—plus so much more ... Nearly 100 exhibitors set up in the Learning Expo, eager to share their creative and helpful offerings to our members.
This year's Learning Expo felt especially energetic and cohesive. Special thanks to our exhibitors, sponsors AND participants who took the time to engage! Another highlight in the Expo was the NAA 30th Anniversary Celebration Station and Interactive Timeline, where stickers, photos, artifacts and more were on display for all to truly appreciate how far the field of afterschool has come.
Workshops: The Heart of Convention
While there was a lot of excitement during the keynotes and in the Learning Expo, participants got down to business when it came time for their personal and professional growth. Over 170 workshops were offered. Participants carefully selected those they wanted to attend and often strategized with colleagues so their group could gain as much knowledge as possible! Here are some of our favorite social media posts that show their experiences in action!
Written by Jill Carroll, Marketing and Media Consultant with the National AfterSchool Association.