I am completing my first year with National Health Corps Florida (NHC) but my second year with AmeriCorps and I’m realizing that even with all of my lowest points in AmeriCorps, I gained valuable knowledge and skills.
My AmeriCorps experience has taught me that I need to be better at time management and communication skills. I am able to communicate better now and am a more organized person when it comes to task prioritization. I have also learned how to handle frustrating situations by being more flexible. I was getting overwhelmed at the start of the service term with all the tasks that were on my plate but as I discussed strategies of time management and communication with my supervisor such as planning ahead, I gained a better footing on what I needed to accomplish. She told me to be more confident in talking to the Y staff about my ideas.
Coming into NHC, I didn’t think I could do anything. I realize now that I always had more potential in me than I gave myself credit for. I have the capability to create programs and develop curriculum that I never thought I had the training for. It took a long time for me to gain confidence and realize that I could do this and all I had to do was come up with a plan and put it into action. While I was a health educator for the First Coast YMCA in Clay County, I created Coastbusters for the YMCA kids to complete during after school programming. To allow kids to practice their basketball skills and learn about the sport while in after school programs I created handouts of different basketball drills for them to take. I also came up with Family Zumba Nights for kids and their family members to participate in.
The biggest challenge for me was trying to initiate new Youth Fit for Life (YFFL) activities entirely for the YMCA after school programs. My host site supervisor wanted me to be the one to change YFFL so that it would impact students, staff, and parents in a positive manner rather than have them dread it every second that they were having to participate in it. YFFL, as a program, had become a time of the day that everyone hated. At first I had no idea how to go about trying to accomplish this large task. When I started brainstorming ideas and talking to the kids and staff members about lessons that they would be interested in, I realized my large project needed to be broken down into smaller assignments. I ended up going to all of the YMCA programs at the 28 schools that the Y serves in Clay County and talked to the staff members about what they wanted to see in YFFL. I started joining common threads and creating activities from there. I made an activity, staff would try it, and I would go to the schools to see how successful they were. Staff members would come talk to me to give me feedback but there were plenty of time when I helped with facilitating activities. My staff members were able to easily facilitate them because I made the instructions easy to read and therefore it was easy for the kids to understand what was going on.
I know my AmeriCorps experiences will stay with me wherever I go and work and I hope to continue positively influencing the lives of children.
This blog post was written by NHC FL AmeriCorps member, Suman Sahani.
Suman serves at YMCA as a Health Educator.