Over the course of my CSLP credit I have been able to see a difference between key public health initiatives and the way they are carried out for two very important issues within the local D.C. community. I initially decided to do CSLP because I wanted the opportunity to work within my field of research. My CSLP credit is tacked onto my health research class in which, as in the past, I have focused research on mental health and stigma especially on college campuses. When I found the organization Active Minds Inc. I could only think of what a perfect fit it was. Active Minds is an organization that supports student groups on college campuses across the nation to fight stigma surrounding mental health. I have been working with Active Minds now for a few months. After only a few times I realized that my role at Active Minds was going to be primarily administrative. As far as my volunteer tasks went I was counting inventory and clearing out store rooms. I was initially disappointed with these tasks. Administrative tasks were not high up on my list of volunteer activities. I know however, that the office manager, and my volunteer supervisor is in great need of help and has appreciated the hours I’ve spent doing such tedious tasks.
Realizing that these tasks, although important, might not be directly relatable to my coursework or what CSLP really stands for I reached out to another organization as well. For the past few weeks I have been working with Teens Run D.C. The organization works to promote physical, social and emotional wellbeing in underserved middle and high schoolers through mentoring and running. For Teens Run D.C. I have taken on the task of volunteer coordinator for the first annual 5k run to be held in May. AT Teens Run I am a lot more actively involved in the organization and am gaining pertinent life skills that strengthen my written and verbal communication skills.
When I saw that Active Minds wasn’t what I was expecting I was disappointed. It was the perfect organization for my interests, however, now that I have gotten to know Teens Run DC I have a much greater appreciation for both organizations. It is interesting to me to see how each organization has taken an issue within our community and have really gone in different directions in terms of solutions. Mental health is a huge topic and Active Minds main goal is to make it more acceptable to talk about mental health issues such as depression and anxiety in everyday life and has been able to take it to the national level. Obesity and inactivity in the nation’s youth is yet another huge issue. Teens Run DC however have taken less of an advocacy approach and really delved into the issue by enter schools and implementing programs on more of a local level. Altogether this experience has strengthened my view of how research can inform what kind of initiative should take place and being able to work with these organizations has been both informative and rewarding.