Social Work Month Observed

“Social Workers Inspire Community Action” is the theme for this year’s National Professional Social Work Month, celebrated each March. NASW is leading the way with the release of several new resources social workers can use to call attention to the inspiring work they’re doing in their communities and attract more people to the profession.

Among the new resources is a revamped and repurposed “Be A Social Worker” Website*. In addition to an entirely new look, the Web site is much more interactive.

“Social workers need more places on the Internet where they can interface with the public, and the new site is designed for just that,” said Amber Johnson, NASW public relations associate. “There are lots of different sites about social work, but not one about social workers.”

Among the bells and whistles is a U.S. map that visitors can scroll over to find social work degree programs in each state; Twitter, Facebook and feeds; and a community section where subscribers can create a profile to tell their stories, meet other social workers and interact with people interested in a career in social work.

In addition, the Web site will provide more specific information on education, licensing, professional standards and NASW.

Also this month, NASW is showcasing 100 “Community Action Heroes” — social workers who have inspired community-wide change.

Earlier this year, NASW put out a request for nominations of individuals who organized people, resources and allies to improve the lives of others in their community or the nation.

“We were inundated with nominations,” said NASW Communications Director Gail Woods Waller.

Among the standouts was Terrie Williams — a clinical social worker, author, head of a public relations and communications agency and founder of the Stay Strong Foundation. Ebony Magazine named Williams to its Power 150 list of influential black Americans for her work in raising awareness about depression in the black community.

NASW’s Woods Waller also said Raymond Sumrall, Ph.D., made the cut. Sumrall is an associate professor of social work at the University of Alabama, where he founded the Youth Services Institute. He is recognized for developing best practices for the rehabilitation of juvenile sex offenders.

As with previous celebrations of National Professional Social Work Month, the NASW communications department is providing a media and community outreach toolkit, available on the association’s Web site. The toolkit contains ideas for how to promote the profession using public education tools such as interactive Web sites, letters to the editor, school presentations, social media, videos and more.

New to the toolkit are tips to help social workers educate consumers about social work, change the portrayal of social work in the media and introduce students to the social work profession.

According to the NASW Web site, the White House officially recognized National Professional Social Work Month in 1984. From 1984 until 1998, NASW selected a social issue to promote every year. From 1998 to 2004, Social Work Month themes promoted the profession with general campaigns about who social workers are and how they benefit society. In 2005, NASW launched the National Social Work Public Education Campaign, a multiyear effort to improve the public perceptions of social work. Since then, NASW has coupled a specific area of practice with general promotion of the profession.

*Be A Social Worker is now The Social Work Career Center.