Friday, April 25, 2008

U.S. Program Affiliates Gather in South Dakota

By Amanda Rives Argeñal, Policy Advisor for Christian Children's Fund

Greetings from Keystone, South Dakota! This is Amanda Rives, Policy Advisor for CCF, writing from the 2008 U.S. Affiliate Conference. We had a very exciting week and packed agenda, but the beautiful views of Mt. Rushmore and the famous Black Hills have kept us refreshed and focused.

Monday afternoon we were warmly welcomed by Raquel Oliva, Director of U.S. Programs. The participants greeted old friends and newcomers to CCF. There are representatives from 13 affiliates, representing a wide range of programming in South Dakota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Mississippi, and Virginia.

Monday evening Ike Bean, Executive Director of Youth Development in Rapid City, gave participants a lecture on the history and culture of Native Americans in South Dakota. Then we were entertained by Shere Wright, United Sioux Tribes Princess who demonstrated her beautiful traditional regalia. The Okiciyapi Drum Group and Tiny Tot dancers added to the festivities.

The conference was full of skills building and important updates. Some of the learning sessions included: Self Acceptance and Healthy Esteem for Children of Today and Youth Environmental Education Programs.

I conducted a session with Robert Langford, Executive Director of Operation Shoestring from Jackson, Miss. on advocacy. Robert described his web of connections which has helped Operation Shoestring be an effective advocate for children and their families. He described successes they have achieved in High-school Drop Out Prevention programs, as well as lessons learned from advocating for Early Childhood Development programs. I highlighted key building blocks that some of our program affiliates used to scale-up their advocacy efforts. We discussed future advocacy actions to implement with our program affiliates and also in Washington, D.C. More details tomorrow!

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