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Professional Development

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We are Bold. We are Brave. We are Brilliant.

This is a transcript of the keynote address delivered in March 2018 by NAA President, Gina Warner, in recognition and celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the National Afterschool Association. The theme of NAA's 30th Anniversary Convention was "Leading the Charge: Be Bold, Be Brave, Be Brilliant"

Last year – in March of 2017 – as we gathered together for our annual convention in Dallas – we were excited, but also scared. Because our work – our very existence as a field – was threatened. Our value had been questioned, our efforts diminished by those in Washington who sought to eliminate needed federal afterschool funding in communities around this country.

But, we stood together, we fought together, and we were successful in not only preserving our funding but increasing it.

We were bold. We were brave. We were brilliant.

And the weeks and the months went on and the whispers began. And they grew into shouts, hurled around the streets and on our TV screens. And they said, "Not all people are equal". And we looked around at the children in our programs. At their families. At our communities and we said, "Oh yes, they are. When any child walks through the door of our program, they are welcomed, and they are valued. Because "Afterschool is for Everyone".

We were bold. We were brave. We were brilliant.

And in just the last month we looked on in sadness as young lives were taken from us in Kentucky, in Parkland. But, we also looked on in pride as we saw students overcome grief and mobilized for change.

And while we might not personally know any of those young people we do know all of them. They are the children in our programs – the ones we have taught to know they have value, to know they have a voice and to use that voice. In afterschool programs around this country we have given them and young people like them the time, the tools, and the confidence to know they are the future.

We are bold. We are brave. We are brilliant.

AND we taught them to be bold. To be brave. To be brilliant.

All of this – the outrage, the fear, the sadness – all of that occurred in just this past year. But this year – in 2018 - we are here celebrating not one year, but 30 years. Thirty years of being bold. Begin brave. Being brilliant.

Who knows what this next year will bring? Who knows what the next thirty years will bring?

Tomorrow. Next year. Thirty years from now. We – afterschool – the people gathered in this room – those who came before us and those who will come after us. We will be there – for the children. For their families. For our communities.

We are bold. We are brave. We are brilliant.