Over 30 years ago, I attended a district meeting. I learned so much from my fellow activity professionals and I could not seem to learn enough. I began my journey as an Activity Professional quite by mistake. I had no formal clinical training and honestly, not a sole in the building I worked in really knew what I was there to do. I remember going through a file one day, only to discover that I needed to do a newsletter. Of course, I come from a time when we hand wrote all of our care plans and most Activity Directors did not have computers. I remember attending one of my local BRAPA meeting where I volunteered to help as a district representative for our State Association (NCAPA). This was the beginning of my journey. I discovered that for a little bit of volunteer time, I can get a lot of continued education. I tend to dive right in headfirst and I got involved! At first it was just at a Representative of my district and then, because I was a district representative, I was given responsibilities at conference. A little over two years into the profession, I started teaching our NC State Approved course. I then found myself not only teaching in class but sharing and networking all over my state. I loved learning more and it seemed that the information just kept getting. I learned about NAAP and NCCAP and decided that I wanted to pursue my National Certification. Since I needed the continued education to get certified, I attempted to attend everything I could. I had a NAAP Conference come close to my State and WOW! I loved the increased level of education as well as the inspiration I came away with. I was recharged and ready to be the best I could be for my residents. You see, Activity Professionals love to share, they love to give away their good ideas and they love to know that someone else can use that idea to help another activity program succeed. Activity Directors Love to Love! I have found over the years that joining the professional organizations have kept me active. If I had not volunteered that first time, I doubt very much that I would have ever stayed in the field. Without new and inspiring activities and challenges, we grow stagnant. We lose our enthusiasm, and that discouragement can only be remedied with more education, networking and just knowing that there are people out there everywhere who do the same thing we do. The energy you find at an activity workshop is not like any other. I always left energized and ready! Yet again, I volunteer, I find myself today serving as the NAAP Secretary. I need education to stay in the game! It is a part of my personal growth to continue to the next level of certification and to maintain that level. As a member of NAAP I will receive so many things, such as a Virtual Platform, Virtual Speakers, in person speakers for my community and for my state organization. Video, Audio, Or Written resources at your fingertips in our new website included in our new NAAP learning management system. Many Activity Professionals were able to rely on this during covid to continue to meet their educational requirements. You will also receive weekly E-Blast from NAAP as well as Facetime live events and Fellow members and Activity Professionals who are there when you call. These are people like you who care about you and your well-being. People who share in some of the same challenges you have every day as an Activity Professional.
Finally, when you serve as a board member of NAAP and some of the state or local organizations, you don’t have to worry so much about your room, your registration or your food while you are away. Much of this is covered. I have attended over 50 conferences throughout the years and my facility was pleased to have me serve the community especially when the budget stayed intact. I have traveled all over my state and have been to places I never dreamed I would go while spending very little out of pocket. If you want to go to a conference, volunteer, offer to speak, get with others in your area and carpool and/or share rooms. Get Creative! You won’t regret it. This is the kind of volunteer work that pays back in multiples. If you are interested in gaining more, growing your career as an Activity Professional, join today and start your journey! If you need help getting connected, please feel free to contact one of our new Regional Directors Julie@NAAP.info or Tammy@NAAP.info. If you know that you are interested in a specific committee, join today. We all need to work together hand in hand to stay relevant and stay connected! John Heywood once said, “Many Hands Make Light Work” Throw your hands up today and let us know how you want to help!
-Kim Burleson, NAAP Secretary