Dr. Kylene Rehder, Jason Thompson become members of social work campaign

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Dr. Kylene Rehder, Jason Thompson become members of social work campaign

Rehder and Thompson
Dr. Kylene Rehder (left) and Jason Thompson are serving on the NASW-OK Public Education Campaign steering committee to help promote social work and the fundraising initiative to “Keep Calm and Social Work.”

The Oklahoma Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW-OK) has initiated a public education campaign to promote awareness and understanding of the social work profession. Two representatives from Northwestern Oklahoma State University have become members of the NASW-OK Public Education Campaign steering committee. Dr. Kylene Rehder, Department of Social Work chair and northwest branch chair; and Jason Thompson, Woodward senior, undergraduate student representative, will serve on the committee to increase social work awareness among other things.

The jobs and functions performed by social workers in contemporary society are varied and wide-ranging. Members of the profession agree the general public has little exposure to accurate knowledge of the social work profession. According to the U.S. Census, nearly 845,000 people are identified as social workers, but 245,000 of these individuals do not hold any social work degrees or licenses.

“As social workers, on any given day we work to make a real difference in the life of an individual or in the lives of many,” said Gary Bailey, NASW president (2003-2005). “Unfortunately, many in this country and around the world do not fully understand or appreciate the important role social workers have played in working with the most vulnerable in their communities and advocating on behalf of policies and programs to help them.”

Therefore, the NASW-OK Public Education Campaign has set forth the following goals: increase awareness and understanding of the social work profession; educate the public on the depth and breadth of social work practice; expand perceptions of who can benefit from social work services; attract young people to the social work profession and improve employment opportunities for professional social workers.

Recognized as a top growth profession, social work directly addresses the increased demand for health care navigation, mental health services, family care giving, child development and veterans’ assistance. There are currently more than 650,000 professionally-trained social workers in the United States, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts job growth to 800,000 by the year 2020.

Besides Rehder and Thompson, the NASW-OK Public Education Campaign steering committee consists of the chair, Terrie Fritz, Cleveland County branch chair; Frannie Hale-Pryor, northeast branch chair; Kelly Wilkerson, graduate student representative from the University of Oklahoma; and Tina Blevins, secretary.

As part of the initiative, “Keep Calm and Social Work” t-shirts are being sold with proceeds going to the campaign.

Rehder is available for more details about the social work profession or information on Northwestern’s social work program at kdrehder@nwosu.edu or (580) 327-8135.

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