Giving Back to the Community: One Officer's Story
This past spring, an officer with the Directorate of Science and Technology helped devise a new way to benefit children in Washington, D.C. As an Agency-sponsored student in the Graduate School USA Executive Leadership Program, she and her team of seven federal employees, who went by the name Soaring Swans, created the “Running Shoes Initiative,” designed to give disadvantaged children athletic shoes and encourage them to develop healthy habits. The effort was launched in conjunction with First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" campaign.
“The ‘Let’s Move!’ campaign was important to our team," the officer remarked, "because children really have no control over what they are fed both in and out of the home. We wanted to provide kids a solid foundation of knowledge about health and fitness for their future.”
Through the Executive Leadership Program, she and her colleagues partnered with an elementary school in Washington, D.C. Together, they prepared a “Why Fitness is Important” essay contest for the children. They initially hoped to receive enough donations to provide running shoes to the authors of the best submissions. They wound up getting 45 pairs, enough for every participant.
“I find it most touching that in the midst of a recession dozens of people were willing to purchase shoes for children in need. These were children they never met but wanted so desperately to help,” she said.
At a school ceremony in May, she helped distribute shoes, talked to the students about the importance of staying healthy, led some exercises, and gave each child a bag containing a jump rope, a pedometer, and bottled water.
“Being able to see the excitement in the children’s eyes when they received their new pair of athletic shoes was the highlight of my day. Buying new shoes and clothing is something that many of us take for granted. Many of these children come from families who cannot afford to buy a new pair of shoes each year,” she noted.
Although she graduated from the Executive Leadership Program in June, this officer plans to stay involved with the Running Shoes Initiative.
“I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity by the CIA to develop my skills through the Executive Leadership Program. This experience taught me that teamwork is truly the key to accomplishing great things,” she said.