Bye, Bye Summer
Now that the days are shorter and the nights are colder, it is pretty accurate to say that the summer is coming to an end. With the culmination of the hot summer days and the endless scoops of ice cream (or sorbet, whatever you prefer) I would like to take some time to reflect on an unforgettable summer. For the past two and a half months, I have had the honor of working at a non-profit organization known as Fiver Children’s Foundation in Upstate, Central New York. Fiver works to empower children and their families from underserved communities within the New York City and Central New York area to empower children to make positive and healthy life choices. Fiver is not only a summer program that provides a getaway for children for two weeks, but it is also a year-round program that focuses on character development and transition assistance.
Overview of Literacy Fellow Role
Working with the summer program at Fiver through Future Leaders in Action (FLIA), I was granted the opportunity to be the Literacy Fellow/Specialist. In this role, I developed and facilitated curriculum for 8-12 year olds focused on an educational and career pathway in order to advance their skills for success. Having the ability to create lessons that focus on topics such as communication, public speaking, organization, inclusivity, collaboration, vocabulary/spelling, and stress management was a very rewarding experience. I was able to see first hand how the participants would take this knowledge back home or to school. There are a lot of participants that, if it were not for Fiver, would not be exposed to the topics that were being discussed and/or would not even be given the chance to learn how to become better students and individuals.
Unforgettable Moments & Takeaways
I truly enjoyed being creative when developing lessons. I stepped out of my comfort zone, put my pride aside and asked others for suggestions/opinions. Some of the best feedback I received while creating this project was from the participants themselves. I reached out to them and used them as a sounding board to gather ideas on what would make class more enjoyable and engaging. Learning and hearing comments from the participants about the space and/or lessons was definitely one of my favorite aspects of this role. One moment that has really resonated with me this summer had to be one day when it was one of the cabin’s first time in the Burrow (the new space for the literacy program) and I had a twelve year old participant that did not enjoy reading at all and had said at the beginning of the summer that he was not picking up a book ever. However, being in the new space and going out of my way to make the participants feel comfortable this camper stated that he actually wanted to read and that he will definitely be picking up a book that summer. After working long, tireless hours on the curriculum and making sure that the space was ready for the participants, hearing this from a child was music to my ears. I remember the warm feeling and smile that had placed in my heart and saying to myself- this is why I do what I do.
A Million Thanks
This opportunity of working with Fiver along with FLIA has provided me with so many skills, tools, and support that I am super thankful for. Starting this journey, I was very hesitant that I did not have the necessary skills to make this as exciting or successful as possible for the participants. But using the resources that were provided for me, along with knowing that I had tremendous support from both the Fiver staff and FLIA, I started to develop a sense of confidence that was not always there. For the warm feelings, smiles, the opportunity to make such an impact on the lives of young children, and my newly found confidence in being an educator- I am eternally grateful.
Now that the adult-world is knocking and it is time to move on, I have been given the privilege of continuing to work with Fiver Children’s Foundation as the 5th & 6th Grade Program Associate, helping participants transition to new stages of their lives and continue to provide endless support Fiver is known to do. With all the tools, motivation, and guidance I have been given this year from the participants at Fiver, FLIA and the Fiver staff, I couldn’t stop there with my education and decided that it was time to go back to school. That being said, along with being a full-time Fiver employee, I will also be a part-time masters student at New York University School Counseling program starting Fall 2019. Not only has FLIA and Fiver helped me change the lives of hundreds of children, but my life has also changed because of them and I cannot express my immense love and gratitude for these amazing organizations that continue to lift and empower people like myself. Thank you from a fellow and a Fiver!