Over a year into the pandemic, we know some programs are welcoming youth back again, but many are still seeing their young people virtually or not at all. Still, I believe that every afterschool professional across the country has one thing in common:
We're all worried about and miss the youth we serve.
I'm confident they miss you just as much.
Afterschool professionals are so important, for a multitude of reasons. An estimated 850,000 afterschool professionals work with children and youth during out-of-school hours—providing enriching experiences and making a profound difference in the lives of young people.
For young people to fully realize their potential and thrive, they need opportunities and relationships beyond what they have access to at school and at home. You, afterschool professionals, make this growth a reality.
While we celebrate Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week and all the incredible people who make the field what it is, be sure to also celebrate yourself. You are the heart of afterschool! Practice self-care so you can come back ready to lead, nurture and teach. When our young people return to school and their programs—and begin learning face-to-face again—we must be there, ready to support them.
I'm consistently in awe of the resiliency and innovation I'm seeing demonstrated. Because of this, we will get through this trying time together and come out stronger on the other side.
Find the positive and celebrate with us every day, in some way.
Written by Gina Warner, President & CEO, National AfterSchool Association.