My name is Charin Khan and am a current freshman at American University. I am studying Public Health, and worked with Kid Power this semester for my Community Service Learning Project; I have attached this CSLP to Intro to Health Promotion. Kid Power is a non-profit organization that is an afterschool program among D.C. Public Schools. This program’s mission is to inspire youth leadership by promoting academic advancement, physical and emotional wellness, and positive civic engagement in underserved communities in D.C.P.S.
I have been working alongside the students at Jefferson Middle School (in SW, D.C.) in and J.O. Wilson Elementary School (in NE, D.C.). At Jefferson Middle School, I work with children between the ages of 11-13 while at J.O. Wilson Elementary School I work mainly with 4th graders. Both schools have implemented two Kid Power programs: Academic Power Hour and Veggie Time. Academic Power Hour is an hour dedicated to working on assignments and receiving one-on-one academic support, which addresses the students’ individual academic and social needs. During this hour, my responsibilities include helping students with their homework and providing individual tutoring to students who need it. Throughout the weeks that I have been at this site, I have helped students with a variety of subjects including Math, Science, Spanish, Civics and English. Although, I participate in Power Hour at both locations, I also assist leading Veggie Time solely at Jefferson Middle School. Veggie Time is a program targeted towards creating a sustainable community through nutrition education. Participants of Kid Power study and learn about agriculture, environmental science, and healthy living practices. We do activities such as hands on math and science projects, cooking classes, and creating business plans to build financial literacy and increase marketing technique knowledge. The projects we have worked on this year include creating and selling cranberry jam and barbeque sauce (all created and influenced by the kids). In order to successfully execute these projects, Kid Power hosts several activities (that I assist leading) to ensure a holistic understanding of the project.
Upon beginning my time with Kid Power and learning about what this organization does for its constituents, I expected to be helping kids with homework and tutoring. Despite meeting those specific expectations, I was also presented with unexpected experiences. Although I was aware that working with children requires a lot of patience, this experience has shown me how imperative it is to be patient and flexible. For example, there were many instances throughout the semester in which I would help most students with the same assignment; while a few understood it perfectly and did not need any help, others struggled with it and needed me to walk through it with them. Differences like these were always interesting to observe as it helped me get to know each student better, and find ways to that I could improve to help the individual students. Although my small contribution does not make much of an impact on their lives, it is surprising and reassuring to see students improve certain academic skills that we work on together. Through this experience, I had the opportunity to speak to many students about many subjects including their home lives, what they like and dislike, their eating habits and general things that they enjoy talking about. When we talk about nutrition and eating healthy, some children express eating a certain amount of fresh fruits and vegetables throughout their week while most do not. I find this to connect to Health Promotion as we learn so much about the importance of eating well and exercise and its positive impacts on all aspects of our health. Although, accessibility is an immense influencer on whether or not these children can make healthy foods a regular part of their diets, which is a major topic of conversation in my class. I think my biggest takeaway from this semester will be appreciating how imperative it is to be patient and apply all the things I have learned from both students and faculty in my academic and personal life.