Saturday, February 09, 2008

Wired Kids Summit Behind the Scenes

On Feb. 6, held the 8th Annual Wired Kids Summit at the Cannon Office complex in Washington, D.C. From 9:00-2:00 panels of Teenangels and Tweenangels participated in discussions in front of congressional and industry leaders, but that’s not the subject of this blog.

Today I want to give you a peak behind the scenes so that you have a better understanding of WiredSafety and the amazing people who volunteer their time and effort to keep people safe online. You'll have to excuse the picture quality because they were taken with a cell phone. Better pictures will be coming in later blogs.

WiredSafety is the world’s largest Internet help organization with more than 5000 volunteers world wide. Aside from their regular duties as volunteers, a dedicated core of individuals led by Parry Aftab, pull together to plan and execute this summit. Meeting places are secured, invitations and RSVPs are processed, hotel and travel arrangement are made for staff, teens, chapter leaders, and chaperones.

All of this brings us to one day before the summit when everyone converges on D.C. and heads to the Marriott where teen, staff, and chapter leaders will be briefed on the coming day’s activities and final preparations will be made for the event.

Aside from the briefings, there are two other activities lined up for the kids. They are given an opportunity to meet and network with their counterparts from around the country while munching of a never ending supply of fruits, snacks, drinks, and pizza, but it isn’t all fun and games. Things get serious was the focus is placed on one of the majore announcements to be made at the summit.

The Assumption School Tweenangels have started an anti-cyberbullying campaign that was just presented on the Tyra Banks Show. Reacting to the suicide of 13 year-old Megan Meier, the tweens have started the Megan’s Pledge Campaign. After explaining the program to the rest of the group, all of the kids had the opportunity to hear from Tina Meier, Megan’s mother, who will be acting as the Deputy Director of Megan’s Pledge.

I’ll cover the pledge in more detail as I write about the summit in a coming blog, but for now, let’s get back to the behind the scenes action. At 5:00 PM the teens headed back to their hotels for some relaxation and a core of about a half-dozen volunteers stayed behind to take care of the food, printed material, and other supplies needed for following day.

That groups broke up at about 12:30 AM, but with the adrenalin flowing, there probably wasn’t a lot of sleeping done that night. I know I was blogging a 4:30 AM and met Parry in the coffee shop at 6:00 AM. By 7:00 we were all piling into cars and taxis to begin setting up.

The teens piled out onto the sidewalk just in time to help unload two SUV’s and a pick-up truck full of food and equipment. A rather stern D.C. policeman didn’t like where we were parked and told us we had exactly 2 minutes to unload. Well it took a little more than two minutes but two dozen teen and a half-dozen adults managed to pile everything on the sidewalk. All that was left was to get everything to the entrance a half block away and three flights up. Everyone grabbed packages and lined up single file to go through security.

What a sight that must have been to Representatives and staffers who had priority and were ushered to the front of the line as they arrived. The security guards were efficient, friendly, and helpful and I was really amazed at how smoothly things went.

Once everything was upstairs, signs were hung, tables were set, and all the necessary preparations were made. There was not a single idle hand and we were ready to go.

This blog hardly does justice to the people and the amount of work that went into the summit. The hard work and dedication of the WiredSafety volunteers is impossible to quantify. I’m proud to be a part of the organization and to be able to contribute what I can.

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