My role in National Health Corps Florida as a Health Educator with the DuPont YMCA has challenged and tested my communication skills in ways I never expected. My goal is to educate students in a fun and captivating way, while positively impacting the childhood obesity epidemic so students can live healthier lives. On Wednesdays, I teach nutrition classes to PK-2nd grade students at Tiger Academy, a YMCA charter school. The objective is to bring awareness and knowledge of the importance of nutrition to students as data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that 1 in 5 school age children and young people suffer from childhood obesity.1
Teaching nutrition education to such young students was scarier than I expected. The first time I walked into a kindergarten class and saw their little, shiny smiling faces staring up at me, I immediately started to feel nervous. Were they going to enjoy my nutrition lesson? Were they going to be engaged? What if they asked questions I couldn’t answer? Was I prepared enough? So many questions and doubts whirled through my mind. It was a humbling experience. I had no idea a group of five-year-olds could be so intimidating.
Although I was nervous, I was able to successfully complete my first nutrition class. The class did not flow exactly as I had envisioned, but it was a learning experience. I learned that teaching kindergarteners was not a scientific process; I had to think on my feet and find different ways to communicate and connect with them.
What I learned from that first class helped me navigate the rest of the year. I simply could not expect perfect classes. But when I am faced with difficult questions or classroom management concerns, I surprise myself. I am forced to think on my feet and effectively communicate and capture their attention in the moment. This is an important skill that I am still developing, but my confidence in dispensing information and educating has soared. I trust myself as a quick-thinker and look forward to continuing to improve my communication skills while making a difference in the lives of students in Jacksonville.
1. Hales CM, Carroll MD, Fryar CD, Ogden CL. Prevalence of obesity among adults and youth: United States, 2015–2016. NCHS Data Brief. 2017;288:1–8.
This blog post was written by NHC FL AmeriCorps member, Corinne Kenny.
Corinne serves at YMCA- Duval County as a Health Educator.