The WAPA family swelled in size April 26 as its youngest members joined their parents at Headquarters in Lakewood, Colorado, for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. Around 50 children between two and 14 years of age took a break from their own busy schedules to learn more about what their parents do at work.
The very important guests arrived early Friday morning and were greeted with breakfast and a welcome from Chief of Staff Erin Green and Administrator and CEO Mark A. Gabriel.
“Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day is one of my favorite events of the year,” said Green, who took the lead in organizing the event. “It’s a great opportunity to share with families the really cool things we do here and to give our kids a glimpse of us as people who do meaningful work that makes an impact on our communities.”
In the free time following registration, parents gave their kids tours of their offices, introduced their coworkers and answered questions about the work they do at WAPA.
“I wanted Jacob to see what I am doing when I am gone all day,” said Secretary Amy Kesler, who works under the MIRACORP contract and also helped plan the event.
Activities planned for all
As families regrouped, the fun—and learning—began in earnest with activities designed to teach as well as entertain.
Children divided into three groups: the Voltage group for two- to five-year-olds, the Current group for six- to nine-year-olds and the Power group for kids nine years old and older. A carefully planned schedule rotated the groups through presentations and activities, allowing volunteers to tailor their material to each audience.
The scavenger hunt and media training—encore activities from last year’s event—were open to all groups. Throughout the day, kids roamed the building looking for items and information, such as a “legal bunny” in General Counsel, core values posters and the WAPA time capsule.
“It turned out that quite a few employees didn’t know we had a time capsule,” said Attorney-Advisor Julia Duffy, who organized the hunt. “It let people discover different spaces in Headquarters.”
Most importantly, families got to meet and learn more about each other.
“We know our coworkers in a professional way,” Duffy observed. “When you see them taking care of their children, you can appreciate them on a whole different level. I watched a colleague blowing bubbles for her son, who was delighted to use his ‘spidey sense’ to catch them in midair. The memory still makes me smile.”
Learning about business, life
Media training—a huge hit from 2018—gave kids the chance to sit in front of a video camera and talk about their day as though they were appearing on the evening news.
Members of the Current group went a step further, unexpectedly taking over the session and interviewing each other.
Isabella Rodriguez, daughter of Public Affairs Specialist Amber Rodriguez, proved that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree by stepping behind the camera.
“One of Isabella’s hobbies is putting together video skits with her cousins and friends so I’m not surprised she was interested in recording and conducting interviews,” Rodriguez said. “I’m happy she was able to be herself and show off her skills.”
Another popular attraction for all ages was a photo booth with safety gear and cutouts that let children imagine themselves as members of WAPA’s line crews. Later, the safety demonstration taught kids about the importance of listening during an emergency, and that using walkie-talkies is “super cool.”
Kids who hoped to learn more about electricity production, such as Brayden Decker, got their chance when Electrical Engineer Leo Gallegos presented Energy 101 to the Current and Power groups. His daughter Tesla served as his assistant for the presentation.
“I had given the presentation before to her class, so Tesla didn’t have to stick around,” said Gallegos, “but she liked the idea of being my assistant, which is very flattering.”
The Current and Power groups were invited to help out with a real WAPA project: Maximo datasplice testing for a personal device application employees will be using in the field. Items with barcodes were set up in the HQ supply area where the young participants could scan them, count them and enter them into the system.
Several children told Supervisory Information Technology Specialist Joe Fast that the activity was their favorite part of the day. “I think it was because it let them feel like they were part of operations for a little while,” said Fast. “They even caught a bug in the app and offered a good suggestion for improving it.”
Things that fly
Even with all there was to do and learn, several kids had very specific ideas about what interested them the most. Jacob Kesler did not have to think when asked why he came to WAPA. “Big birds!” he declared.
Engineering Technician Bernadette Martinez’s son Deion concurred. “I love animals,” he said, before hastily adding that he wanted to learn how electricity “goes through the pipes.”
The nonprofit rescue and educational organization HawkQuest gave a presentation with live birds of prey. Parents’ cameras clicked away as kids got an up-close look at a Harris hawk, a great horned owl, an American kestrel and a bald eagle, and learned about their hunting and feeding habits. The audience did an admirable job paying attention and following the rules the HawkQuest volunteer set for not startling the raptors.
Six-year-old Natalie Williams was interested in a different kind of bird—a whirlybird.
“Where’s the helicopter?” she demanded.
It takes a village
A lot of hard work by many dedicated people made Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day a success.
Green expressed her appreciation for everyone who contributed time, materials, creativity, equipment and support to the event and treated them to a pizza party May 16.
“I enjoyed getting to know the people involved in getting ready for the event and developing stronger relationships with so many coworkers,” she said. “I hope it becomes an annual occasion. I already look forward to it each year.”
Note: Storie is a technical writer who works under the Wyandotte Services contract.