Kids need adults in their lives.
We know that. Kids know that.
Fortunately for Arlington, many adults go out of their way to support young people either through close mentoring relationships, or by providing incredible opportunities for youth.
The Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth and Families (APCYF) would like to introduce 5 individuals and 2 teams who have been selected as Champions for kids in 2018.
Since 2004, APCYF has recognized 114 Connect With Kids Champions – adults who build caring, supportive relationships with young people.
This year there is a new award – Do For Kids Champions – to recognize committed people who work behind the scenes to support young people’s growth and development.
We wish to congratulate the 2018 Champions!
Susan Parker, Arlington Unitarian Cooperative Preschool, Do For Kids
Susan, a passionate teacher and director of the Arlington Unitarian Cooperative Preschool, comes with exceptional recommendations. Susan utilizes her exceptional talents by developing a child-directed, play-based learning philosophy that focuses on the individual’s needs, providing a safe and nurturing environment, prioritizing the process over the product and fostering a positive approach of problem solving and discipline. Susan always seeks what is in the best interest of the child and works to create a community of learners out of AUCP families, with all adhering to the adage that ‘it takes a village’. If families feel supported, their children will thrive. Parents describe her “magic” with children, and marvel at her positive attitude. What some call bad behavior, Susan describes as “unmet needs”. She is “a masterful example of a person who nurtures the whole child to become his or her best self!”
Potomac Valley Track Club (PVTC), Do For Kids
PVTC, an all -year training program for young athletes in competitions such as running, walking, jumping and throwing, is changing young peoples’ lives by teaching students values of hard work, practice, setting goals, helping one another, and building relationships with mentors. Along the way, young athletes also learn about nutrition, posture, balance, strength, flexibility. PVTC creates an environment that is family-oriented and focused on helping youth mature as athletes and as people. The organization is volunteer-driven by a multitude of excellent local and highly competitive athletes of all generations, including “ancient seniors” in their 80’s and 90’s – proving to young athletes that running can be a lifetime sport, if nurtured well!
Teen Clinic, Arlington Department of Human Services, Do For Kids
The Arlington Teen Clinic serves approximately 350 teens, both males and females of all sexual orientations, providing testing for STD’s, HIV and pregnancy, providing provisions for contraceptives, counseling in making healthy choices in their relationships, reproductive health care, and support as a confidential counsel in questions they would not otherwise ask a parent, family or friends. One great example of this is a teen who called in to the clinic and described a sexual assault her friend encountered under the influence with a few men. Because of the caring response by clinic team, the teen decided to actually come into the clinic. The nurse of the day patiently went through every scenario from Emergency Contraception, Sexual Assault Info, and possible HIV exposure, to what the Teen Health Services Clinic could provide and found ways to ensure a ‘warm handoff’ to a Sexual Assault counselor. It is this attention to the needs of clients that elevates the Clinic staff to the level of Champions.
The question has often begged: are great teachers born or grown? Jureen exemplifies much of both qualities. She is a passionate and enthusiastic teacher who believes every student can, and deserves to, learn and grow – both inside and outside of her classroom. Over the past year, Jureen declared that every student in all her classes would show marked progress in their daily work. She made it a point to establish a relationship with every student. She talks respectfully with each one, valuing them, and what they have to say. She introduced herself through different assignments that require each student to develop a personal profile in their computer science work. She then memorized all their personal profiles – all 110 students, which enabled her to truly connect with them. Jureen is a special person and an exceptional teacher who exudes very special talents that she likely was born with but also has developed.
For the past year several years Lisa Cosgrove- Davies has been providing ample opportunities for youth in Arlington to grow, be heard, and be valued. She has been an adult ally to the Teen Network Board at their bi-monthly meetings. She has created study nights for students during finals, and most recently has created a LGBT youth group at Central Library. She brings in speakers during the LGBT youth group meetings and provides the youth with a safe space to share their own hopes, challenges, and successes in a supportive and safe environment. Lisa enables the youth to read what they want, and, more importantly, to express themselves in word, dress, and action. She helps to build a community across Arlington, by encouraging them to with students from other schools. She has also linked up parents of teens to help them better understand the struggles their teens might be going through.
Thanks in large part to Susan’s work as the Artistic Director for Encore Stage & Studio, generations of children in Arlington County have grown up participating in theatre and learning the life lessons of empathy, respect, self-discipline, and mentorship. Susan’s position gives her the unique opportunity to interact with children of all ages on a one-on-one level. She consistently creates a safe, creative, fun community so that kids, feel comfortable trying new things. When Susan forms a cast, she ensures that each child has his or her moment in the show to take center stage. She coaches each one through that moment so that the child feels confident and can shine. An Encore director is sufficient when he or she can produce a quality piece of work on time and the kids enjoy the process. A great Encore director can teach some life skills in the process of putting on the show. A Susan-level director can do all of this in ways that Encore hasn’t seen in 50 years of being a children’s theater company.
Elsa goes above and beyond every day for her students. She listens to and treats each one as though they are the most important person in the room. She has a calm and understanding air about her that lets the students know that she will always sit down and listen to them, whether they are asking for advice or just venting. In short, they can tell her virtually anything – and they often do. On some of the students’ hardest days, Elsa is the kind and compassionate adult they know they can turn to, confide in, and trust. While she is expected to support the students during the time they are in program, she also is there for them outside of the program as well. Students contact her regularly for help with a friend or family member; parents ask her for help with other aspects of their children’s lives because they know she has such a good relationship with them. Elsa is the go-to person for so many students on so many levels; she is the essence of what it means for youth to have a caring adult in their life.
To learn more about how you can support young people in Arlington, or to find out how to nominate someone as a Champion next year, contact Michael Swisher, Adult Outrecah Coordinator for APCYF at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-228-1671.