Thursday, May 28, 2015

Brashear Kids go to the Capital!

We are extremely proud to be APOST Quality Campaign members. APOST, Alleghany Partners for Out of School Time, is an excellent organization and advocate for all things out of school time in the Pittsburgh region. APOST is a great partner to work with when it comes to continuing excellence in our afterschool programs, camps and other out of school time activities.

When APOST shared an opportunity to travel to Harrisburg to advocate for afterschool programs, we jumped at the chance! We took some of our 5th graders from the afterschool program as a "graduation trip" of sorts. They eagerly looked forward to this trip for weeks! 

The bus ride was a 3 and a half hour trip full of questions and exclamations from 7 inquisitive 10-11 year olds like:
"Look Miss Amber! A cow! This is the 3rd time I have ever seen a cow in my life!"
"Everybody Hold your breath for the tunnel! Hold it!"
"Why does his feet stink?"
Leah, from APOST, was on our bus and taught a little training on intended outcomes for the day and why this day was important. She was a great trip leader and our students really seemed to take to her. Having some of the youngest students on the trip was a little crazy at times because they were so full of questions, Leah was patient with them and was genuinely interested in their stories.

We showed up right before our first meeting with Harry Readshaw just to get a little lost below the capital in the maze of hallways of offices and arrive just as he had to leave for another appointment. His aide was extremely accommodating and helpful. She chatted with the students in his place and reassured them that Harry Readshaw is Pro-afterschool! She then showed us to an excellent lunch spot to enjoy the beautiful day in the capital surrounding by beautiful buildings. 

After lunch we explored the Soldiers and Sailors Field to to get a little energy out enjoy the beautiful day. I had a couple really great conversations with our students walking through the memorial about the history of wars and the student's personal thoughts on war.  Having a conversation with a child who has encountered violence on their own streets on a heady subject like war is fascinating. I found it equally fascinating that they had different views on it. 

I had to explain, on more than one occasion, that these memorial markers were not graves. A couple didn't believe me and insisted that someone was buried under the markers.
Our time in Soldiers and Sailors field did cause them to think and discuss and I believe our discussions were very insightful. 

Photo by Alaya, 5th grade
Photo by Janara, 5th grade.

We chatted about what we would like to discuss with Representative Paul Costa at our next meeting. The students collectively decided they would to share stories of afterschool at ALEC, this was mainly because they didn't exactly understand what a dedicated line of funding was for after school programs. They just really thought he should know why it was important to them.

Photo by Khalif, 5th grade.

Representative Paul Costa and his staff was very nice and welcoming of our students into their space. They were excited to see his Terrible Towel proudly displayed on the front of his desk and other Pittsburgh memorabilia throughout his office.  We shared our hope for a dedicated line of funding to afterschool programs and shared the importance of quality out of school time programs in young lives.
Nicole, one of our 5th grade parents came on the trip with us to share a parent's point of view of the positive impact afterschool programs make in the lives of young black Americans. She shared her passion for youth to take pride in themselves and their neighborhood and she believes afterschool programs help achieve this.

Photo by APOST
We ended the day in a sea of orange on the steps under the rotunda to show our support for why afterschool matters during a rally held by PSAYDN, Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool Youth Development Network. 
Speaker after speaker presented their empassioned cases for why afterschool matters.  Many people were present and APOST presence made up more than half the advocates that day!

Overall, was a really fun and exciting day and we can't wait to go back next year!
Our students asked a lot of really great questions, danced around outside(a alot), touched and participated in every interactive exhibit they could get their hands on in the capital building, said way too many funny things and flashed more smiles than I can count. They loved every minute of it!

We ended the day with a little #AfterschoolMatters selfie.

Thank you APOST for offering this trip for our students to actively participate in advocacy, for programs like ALEC, across the state of Pennsylvania!


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