Fighting Poverty with Passion
After completing the Thanksgiving Assistance last month, my next challenge
was planning, promoting, and organizing a screening of the documentary The Raising of America at the Arts and Wellness Center on December 16th, 2016. The Raising of America is a 5-part documentary series that focuses on topics such as equitable access to quality childcare, the effects of the environment on early childhood development, and paid paternity and maternity leave.
Planning the screening was very simple because the Healthy Start program of New Orleans provided me with a screening toolkit to help guide me in planning the event.
Throughout the planning process, I was able to contact Kristen Kirksey of Healthy Start if I had any questions about the tool kit or needed help with advertising the event. The Broadmoor restaurant El Pavo Real was also supportive of the event and donated some very tasty appetizers to the event (I highly recommend the tortas and seasoned popcorn!).
We were able to invite 7 panelists all from each bringing his or her own unique experiences that allowed them to offer varying perspectives on issues touched upon in the documentary. The following moderator and panelists were featured at the screening: Jenni Watts Evans of The Parenting Center (moderator), Anna Breuer, PsyD of the Fussy Baby Network, Jamar McKneely of InspireNOLA Charter Schools, Matthew Lindsay-Deputy Chief of Staff for the New Orleans City Council, Madeline Thibodeaux of Play and Grow Studios, Nikki Ben of The Childhood Development Program, and Sheana Turner of Andrew Wilson Charter School.
I received a great deal of support from several of my co-workers who helped by setting up, promoting, and participating in the event. Overall, we had a modest amount of guests but the intimate setting helped foster deeper discussions around the topics mentioned in the film. I was very grateful for the overall positive response that we received from those in attendance.
The topics and issues discussed hit close to home for many in attendance and are in no means limited to those in the room. Ensuring that children have access to healthy, safe, and nurturing environments is an issue that transcends race, gender, and socioeconomic status. An aspect of the event that really inspired me was the fact that at the end of the panel discussion, all of the panelists and members in the community developed a short term goal/call to action as to how they would address the issues discussed in the film in their own lives and in their communities.
As 2015 drew to a close I began to reflect on what I have learned and done in my short time at the BIA. Upon reflecting, I found that I still have so much more to learn and that the challenges that my team encountered serve as an opportunity for growth.