Posts tagged The Congressional Award
Posts tagged The Congressional Award
I have always been interested in bettering my community and being engaged with service, that is why prior to participating in the Congressional Award I completed 500 hours of service, by volunteering in my community and working with several local and national political campaigns since I was 10 years old. When I enrolled in the Congressional Award program I started working towards the required 400 hours to get the Congressional Award Gold Medal.
I volunteered for the local community by visiting the homeless shelter, senior home, working at the American Red Cross, and in my church. I am a person with a disability and I want people to know that with hard work anyone can be successful. I have become more confident and interested in learning new things and helping people. During the summers I volunteered to work at the American Red Cross for people with disabilities. I volunteered at the American Red Cross of Northern Virginia and was selected to participate in the Virginia State Steering Committee, Self-Advocacy Mobilization, and Partnership for People with Disabilities, in Richmond, Virginia. In addition, I was selected to give a speech about my life, at The American Red Cross of Virginia State Convention, in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2009.
I graduated from Potomac High School in 2007 and worked at the Pentagon for one year after high school. I was accepted into the George Mason University in the Mason Life program for students with Intellectual Disabilities. I have served my community by letting people know and see that anything is possible for people with disabilities. I will graduate in May 2012. I also work part time at the Library of Congress, and hope to get a full time job there. My family is very proud of me and my accomplishments. My family and community consider me a role model. They know that anybody can be successful in life if they work hard with the right support. I have come a long way from being the boy who some people said would not do well in life because of my disability. I am very proud to be getting the Congressional Gold Medal this year. I hope to inspire other people with disabilities to participate in the program.
~Darryl Edward Gray
2012 Gold Medalist
From time to time, we at the National Office will ‘blog’ about various portions of the program that can be a bit challenging. Whether you’re a current participant, a long-time Advisor, or someone new to the program, we hope you’ll find the following information helpful!
Perhaps the most unique part of the Congressional Award program is the fact that you set your own goals for each of the four program areas. Yes, you have your adult mentors and the Program Book to help guide you along the way, but outside of the program guidelines, it is entirely up to you to take the initiative in deciding how to earn your Award.
This is no mistake; Congress has designed the program so that you can get as much out of it as possible. By setting your own goals, you learn more about your interests, your limits (and how to surpass them!) and most importantly, you set a precedent for the rest of your life. As you continue on to your profession or higher education, you will have the skill and know-how to achieve the results you want— all because you know how to set goals. Goals are the secret to a successful future.
So here’s how to get started. After registering, you set your goals and have them approved by your Advisor and Validators. Your goals should demonstrate initiative and forethought. Think ahead— what would you like to accomplish?
It can help to ask the following questions while setting goals:
Is my goal…
…achievable? Try to plan ahead and set goals that are doable in the several months or years that you’ll be working toward your Award. “I will learn more about space by becoming and astronaut” may be a good life goal, but it’s probably not a realistic goal during your time in the Congressional Award program.
…challenging? While you should be sure to set achievable goals, be extra sure that your goals challenge you. Go ahead and push yourself—this is your chance to test your limits and explore your interests!
…worthwhile? Be sure that your goal offers a benefit of some kind to someone. If you and/or the people you’re serving aren’t getting anything out of your activity, it might be time to rethink your goal.
…measureable? Not everything can be measured in numbers, but your goal should provide some way for you to track your progress and improvement.
…fulfilling? Take some time to think about all that you will accomplish. Medalists who have gone before you will tell you, it’s a good feeling to look back and say “I did that!”
If your answer is ‘no’ to any of these questions, it’s time to re-think your goal. If the answer to is ‘yes’, then it’s time to get to work! You should write your goal in the Record Book and start working on your activities.
As you work toward your goals, sometimes it becomes apparent that a goal needs to be re-worked. The great part about setting your own goals is that you get to learn about yourself and what interests you, as an individual. If you need to drop, add or revise a goal, simply talk with your Advisor and Validator at any time, and begin working toward a revised goal. Simple as that! Don’t worry, the time you spent on your previous goal, prior to revision, can still be counted toward the total hours for that program area (assuming, of course, that the activity itself is still unchanged). On a related note, goals and activities can change for each level of the Award. Again, it’s entirely up to you!
One of the more common questions we receive is, “Can I set more than one goal in a program area?” And the answer is yes. For each level of the Award, you can set several goals in each program area. For Voluntary Public Service, you can set up to four different goals, for Personal Development and Physical Fitness you can set two each, and for Expedition/Exploration you can set one new goal per level. Just be sure that a new Record Book page is used for each goal (please make copies as needed!).
When setting goals, there may be some cases where several, similar activities fit the same goal. These activities can be recorded on the same record book sheet. This is called an “Umbrella Goal”. Here’s an example:
“I will provide a minimum of 200 hours of service activities under the direction of the Pleasantville Office for Volunteer Service.”
Umbrella Goals are useful when your activities have a clear, underlying connection or similarity that helps achieve your goal. Please note, however, that broad collections of unrelated Voluntary Public Service activities would not be acceptable. The following, for example, would not be an acceptable Umbrella Goal:
“I will help people by working at the nursing home on weekends, tutoring younger students after school on Tuesdays, picking up trash on my daily morning walk along the trail and also starting my own non-profit to provide clothing to those in need.”
While Umbrella Goals should be broad enough to include multiple activities, they should not be so overly-broad that they no longer hold a real value— remember: achievable, worthwhile, measureable, challenging and fulfilling. A good goal should be all of these.
For more information on goal-setting, please see page five of the Program Book, available here.
In 2011, approximately 1,500 young people earned a Congressional Award. Just think— each of those young people had the creativity to set their own goals and the drive to achieve them. If you or someone you know has the ability to do the same (and we know you do!!), click here!
North Program Manager
The Congressional Award Foundation