NASW, Chapters Set Social Work Month Activities in Motion

Social Workers Change Futures SWM 2011 logoMarch is National Professional Social Work Month and NASW and its chapters are gearing up for exciting events to promote this year’s theme: “Social Workers Change Futures.”

“Our chapters work hard to make Social Work Month a success,” said Gail Woods Waller, NASW director of communications. “This year is no exception.”

Many chapters capitalize on the month to promote the Social Work Public Education campaign in their communities.

NASW’s Washington State Chapter reached out for financial support from social work stakeholders in the state to help fund a series of newspaper ads and radio spots featuring messages from the public education campaign. “This is done to support the profession of social work and to help provide a better understanding to the public about what social workers do in the community and who social workers are,” said Hoyt Suppes, executive director of the chapter.

A similar effort is taking place through the NASW Indiana Chapter, according to Executive Director Josephine Hughes.

She said a special publication, titled “Celebrating Social Workers,” was produced this year for insertion in The Indianapolis Star. The insert reached 650,000 readers and more people through an online version of the copy.

Steve Karp, executive director of the NASW Connecticut Chapter, said two events are being planned for Social Work Month. The first is a “Social Work Careers Celebration” sponsored by the chapter’s Committee on Aging. The dinner reception will offer a presentation on trends in the field as well as an update on the aging committee activities.

“We are marketing it to all practitioners and social work students interested in aging,” Karp said. The second event is a recognition reception for Latino school social workers, sponsored by the chapter’s Latino Social Workers Network.

Collaboration among social workers, social work students and educators is another way chapters work to develop a successful Social Work Month campaign.

That is evident in Pennsylvania, where the chapter is teaming up with social work students from the University of Pennsylvania to host a “Social Work Shout-Out” on March 31. The plan is for at least 100 students to wear matching T-shirts and distribute educational materials in high-traffic areas. The chapter has a toolkit on its website to help other social workers and schools of social work to launch their own “Shout Out” publicity campaigns.

“If social workers can show our unity and our size through a series of small, simple actions, we can continue the difficult work of educating the general public about the hard work we do,” it says.

NASW’s national office in Washington is also offering step-by-step activities through its Social Work Month Toolkit.

It offers dozens of examples of how social workers can educate their neighbors and communities about the profession.

Ebony Jackson, senior Web and social media specialist at NASW, said one way social workers can do their part is by utilizing social media tools in March.

She said: “We’re encouraging social workers and fans of social work to send out tweets, update status messages on their Facebook pages, post on blogs and to upload pictures or videos with a sign that completes the sentence, ‘Social Work is important to the nation’s future because ...’. We will be promoting this effort through NASW’s social media outlets.”