Giselle Rodriguez, Kid Power, Inc.

My name is Giselle Rodriguez and I’m a Public Health major. This semester I am doing my Community Service Learning Project with Kid Power Inc. and I’m connecting it to my Multicultural Health class. Kid Power is a nonprofit organization that works with DC public schools to promote positive civic engagement and academic development. Their mission is to teach the children about proper nutrition, exercise, and overall physical and emotional wellness. The organization’s main goal is to educate the kids and ensure that they are reaching their full potential. The program mainly works with kids who go to schools in Southeast DC and majority of the students are children of color, specifically African American. The parents of many of the children we serve work long hours and don’t always have the time to help their children with their homework or can’t pick them up after school because of their work schedule. Kid Power proves quite beneficial to parents because it gives them the opportunity feel at ease knowing their kids are in school doing something productive and constructive. Along the same lines because the kids are still in school learning and participating in positive activities their grades and leadership ability both improve.

I work at Malcolm X Elementary School and my main job is to help my site coordinator, Ms. Shana, in whatever way I can. Usually, I prepare for the activity of the day whether that’s a STEM activity or preparing for clubs. I chose to focus on the physical wellness aspect of the program so that I could relate it to my multicultural health class. Because Kid Power has a program called Veggie Time where the kids learn about nutrition and healthy eating, I figured I could work with the sports club to make a sports curriculum that would work in accordance with Veggie Time. That way the children get a well-rounded physical wellness education in addition to whatever they are learning from their physical education curriculum. I knew that this work would best fit with my public health interests and would make sense when relating it to my class.

It has proven more difficult than I originally expected because of logistical issues and changes in the schedule to accommodate the needs of the kids. For the first month of the my CSLP, instead of working with the sports club I was working with the arts and crafts club instead. I knew that working with these kids was what my site coordinator needed me to do. However, once I started getting outside and seeing how the excited the kids were to play whatever sport we planned for the day I knew that all the days spent inside were worth it.

Seeing as all the kids are children of color living in an urban environment they don’t get the chance to be outside that often. The sports club gives them the opportunity to go outside, get their energy out, and just be kids. From a public health stand point it is well known that African Americans are more likely to suffer from poorer health than their white counterparts. By having this sports club that would work in conjunction with Veggie Time, we were setting the kids up with better health practices. Majority of the time the kids wanted to play either football or basketball so getting them to try sports like soccer, kickball, or softball was quite difficult. I didn’t think that something as simple as sports could differ so much. Working with kids has taught me the art of patience and perseverance because while it can be difficult to get the kids to listen or follow directions once they’re running around and having a good time it all becomes worth it.

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