Setting the Standard: 2016 Georgia Afterschool & Youth Development Conference

Jessica Andrews-Wilson, GUIDE’s Executive Director, asked participants, “Georgia ASYD 2016, how do you feel?” The crowd roared back with their response: “We feel good! Oh, we feel so good! Uh!”

That’s right; 552 participants and 47 conference staff did feel good during the 2016 Georgia Afterschool & Youth Development Conference, which took place September 21-23 in Columbus, Georgia. During this time, participants from across the state of Georgia and beyond had the opportunity to network, collaborate and learn new skills in order to ensure Georgia’s youth are equipped to succeed and thrive socially, emotionally and academically.

ASYD Quality Standards

img_6461The Georgia ASYD Conference is based around the Georgia ASYD Quality Standards. These standards are research-based best practice guidelines that outline components of high-quality youth development programs. These guidelines are organized by nine Quality Elements: Programming & Youth Development, Linkages with the School Day, Environment & Climate, Relationships, Health & Well-Being, Staffing & Professional Development, Organizational Practices, Evaluation & Outcomes and Family & Community Partnerships. When these standards are adopted by afterschool and youth development programs, they can be used as a framework to help design and implement quality programs for youth. This is meant to be an assessment tool to help programs with continual improvement. Each portion of the conference, including keynotes and breakout sessions, incorporated at least one of these quality elements as a way to educate participants on how to improve various components of programming.

Keynotes & General Sessions

During the conference, participants heard from several experts in the youth development field. Kevin Wanzer, world renowned keynote and motivational speaker, started things off right with his opening keynote by getting the crowd up, moving and finding joy in the ordinary. Dr. Anita Krishnamurthi, Director of STEM Policy at the Afterschool Alliance, shared the importance and ease of incorporating STEM in afterschool programming. Adam Fletcher, author, motivational speaker and educator, led the closing keynote where he called everyone to action by inspiring participants to engage in every aspect of their lives, especially when working with youth.

Ready to go back to programs and create positive change, participants took part in a Youth Development Café. The café allowed for whole group interaction and collaborative dialogue where participants discussed things they learned during the conference and ways to take that learning back home. They shared conversation with various groups of people, all while in a unique, café setting.

Breakout Sessions & Exhibitors

img_3217From incorporating physical activity and creativity into activities to learning how to use participant feedback to achieve target outcomes, participants learned how to incorporate the Georgia ASYD Quality Standards in order to make existing programming better as a whole. This information was presented by 70 various breakout speakers who shared their incredible experience, expertise and resources.

There was no shortage of takeaways and resources at ASYD 2016! Thirty-eight exhibitors came from all over the country to provide information related to their brands. Participants received a plethora of information and lots of free goodies, too.

Funders & Partners

The Georgia ASYD Conference is a collaborative effort that is funded and endorsed by the Georgia Department of Education, the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services and the Georgia Department of Public Health. The development of the standards and conference was also supported by partners Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network and GUIDE. Thank you for making the dream of ASYD 2016 a reality!

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Thank you to everyone who funded, partnered, staffed and attended the 2016 Georgia Afterschool and Youth Development Conference! Because of your hard work and dedication, programs throughout the state are now more equipped to become the quality that sets Georgia apart.

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