In support of the Afterschool Alliance’s advocacy work to help raise awareness for out of school time programs across the nation, we are re-posting a note written by Thierry Gonzalez from a Facebook post. Proceeds from every purchase will go to the Afterschool Alliance to support the defense of after-school funding in the face of devastating proposed cuts. Your fashion statement will help millions of kids across America!
“A brief explanation of why I have started the website www.supportafterschool.com.
For those that know me well, know that I have been lucky enough to have made a career out of what was once a part time job teaching kids how to skateboard after-school. In 2002, I just happened to be at the right place at the right time and stumbled across an opportunity that would forever change the path I was on, a bit hokey but it’s true. I was hired by an organization called the LA Afterschool All-Stars, formerly known as Arnold’s After School All-Stars. For those that were actually there and know the story, they usually shake their heads and laugh because it’s pretty crazy.
I was lucky to be given a chance to be part of a team that would accomplish so much in such a short amount of time, in a field that was still trying to figure out what to do and how to do it GREAT. One of my mentors in the field would tell us that we would be the “experts” in the field soon. I laughed at the thought of being an expert at anything… When I thought of what an expert was, I envisioned an old grey haired man lecturing in an auditorium about physics. At the time I had no clue about the power and influence I was about to be handed and just looked at it like a fun job that paid the bills. I got paid to hang out with kids and create cool programs. That thought process changed quickly when I realized that this was so much more than just hanging out with kids and skateboarding. We were seriously changing lives. I remember when one of my staff members changed his voicemail to say “I’m sorry I cannot take your call right now, I am out fighting crime and saving lives”. That automatically became part of our culture at work. We seriously were fighting crime and saving lives! This guy not only drank the kool-aid, he was pushing it like a dealer! I started to realize quickly that this was not just a job anymore, but a way of life. It was like it became part of our DNA as a team. We were part of this organized chaos called AFTER-SCHOOL!
I remember thinking “Wait a minute, you want me to be in charge of how many staff and how many kids?” I could barely be responsible for myself in those days… But yet I was still handed an opportunity to create something that would forever change the course of after-school programs from that point on. I was lucky enough to have some of the best mentors that would create the most out of the box learning opportunities for us, not only to learn but to grow quickly in field that was always evolving. I am thankful to those that gave me the opportunities and worked side by side with me to fight crime and save lives this past 15 years. I am forever grateful to the field of after-school and to all that are a part of this amazing movement! Now it is my turn to give back to the field. I don’t have much, but what I do have is a wealth of knowledge and a network of colleagues across this great country that will join me in fighting against any proposed budget cuts that will affect kids and families that depend on after-school programs.
Please join me in supporting after-school by visiting our website WWW.SUPPORTAFTERSCHOOL.COM and purchase a T-shirt. And if you’re a champion for the cause, please post with the following hashtags on social media platforms: #SupportAfterschool, #AfterschoolWorks, #SaveAfterschool and #AfterschoolMatters.
Recovering Middle School Student”