By Saadia Ahmad, DC Elementary School Program Coordinator
Photos courtesy of AALEAD Staff
Every holiday season is a beautiful reminder to appreciate simple joys and be thankful for all the good things in life. Often times, we let little things stop us from seeing clearly and cloud our vision. But it’s gratitude that gives us energy and power to keep moving on and to be resilient. It’s also a time to get together with your loved ones, appreciate them and celebrate with them.
This past thanksgiving was especially very special to me!
As most of you know, in October 2017, we found out that due to lack of funding, AALEAD would not be able to continue programs at one of our oldest sites, Thomson Elementary School. While this news left us all shocked and sad, it only brought us together and further instilled a sense of community and family in all of us. We promised our Thomson youth that we will stay in touch and come up with ways for them to stay connected with AALEAD.
On Friday, November 16th, 2018, we had a family reunion event at Thomson for our youth, their families, our former AALEAD Thomson staff and volunteers. Words can’t begin to express how joyous this gathering was. Youth and their excitement were off the roof and they were running up to their friends and teachers to give them a hug. You could feel a sense of community by the warmth all around the room and the way youth took ownership of their program. One of our 4th grade youth, Marley told me,
For several years, our Elementary School program has consisted of two sites, Thomson Elementary School and Bancroft Elementary School and the youth in our program have build a relationship with each other by joint events and field trips. As our friends at Bancroft could not join the reunion, they made a special video message for friends at Thomson and made sure they could be part of this year’s theme “IGNITE: Discover your Passion” and add on to the two projects that they are working on.
Youth at Thomson got to contribute to the AALEAD Ignite Poster that Bancroft had already started, by writing their passions and things that give them energy. They also contributed to a community mural project by drawing/writing on individual pieces of canvases about where they see themselves in 20 years. This activity was so powerful, as youth really thought about how their passions will ignite them to achieve their goals to get to where they want to be in 20 years. One of our former teachers at Thomson, Ms. Tiffany says,
We are hoping to showcase these projects at a joint event sometime in Spring 2019 where youth can get together for another reunion event. Thomson and Bancroft youth also got to attend the annual MOAPIA (Mayor’s Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs) end of the year holiday celebration toy drive on December 7th.
We will continue to find ways for our youth to stay connected to AALEAD and find opportunities for both sites and alumni to stay in touch. Our youth at Bancroft, Alexa and Sandy say it best,
You all will always be part of AALEAD family. Until next time wonderful youth!