The main portion of my applied project definitely surpassed my expectations. Everyone had a great time, enjoyed the healthy snacks, engaged in the games, and learned something new! I am very grateful for the opportunity I had to work with the children and staff from the Pemi Youth Center.
I woke up that day excited for what was in store. I brought all the supplies that we were going to use down to the ALLWell North Center. I had previously spoken with the building manager and the woman in charge of the Nutrition classroom in order to secure the two rooms that were going to use. When the children were out of school my roommate, a Physical Education student, and I walked down to the Pemi Youth Center and met up with the children and staff. We walked to ALLWell North together and gathered in one of the classrooms.
I had everyone play a short introduction game so that we were all more comfortable working together. As everyone entered the Nutrition classroom I assigned them a number which established the snack that they would be making. The group split into two and I explained what we were making and the importance of the wholesome ingredients. At first the children complained when I said the snacks were going to be healthy but they quickly changed their minds once weigot started.
The children dove right into cooking with some guidance. It was so wonderful to see them having fun and working together. Once everything was prepared we put the tots in the oven and the energy balls in the fridge. Everyone moved back into the classroom where we played the Nutrition Jeopardy game I created. The groups that cooked together remained on their original teams. Everyone was so involved and did an excellent job answering the questions!
Before the game was over my roommate and I brought the snacks out to the children and staff. Everyone loved them and even asked for recipes to bring home. There was also some left over for the children that weren’t able to attend or that left early. It was great to see what knowledge they had about nutrition and oral health already but even more exciting to see what they learned.
The biggest challenge of this experience was also something I would change if I could do it all again. I wish that I had more than one day to work with the Pemi Youth Center. I also wish that I had shadowed more than one time. Everything was on a pretty tight schedule while working with the children. I also really enjoyed my day shadowing and feel that I could have benefited from a few more days of engaging with the dental hygienists and patients. I think that I could have made a greater impact if I had more time with both groups. I have learned that timing is a very important part of planning. When I am in charge of planning anything in the future I will ensure that I break down the time period into smaller increments. Overall, the project was a success in my eyes but there is always room for improvement.
This experience was a great way to incorporate a variety of the things that I have done here at PSU. I was able to use the experience I have had with teaching, knowledge I have gained about health, and my new experience shadowing a dental hygienist to do something that impacts the community. I hope to incorporate all that I have learned and continue to influence others to make healthy choices.
This project was a great example of how my undergraduate education is setting me up for success. I was recently hired to work at an oral surgeon’s office after I graduate. I am so excited! This experience will help me when I continue my education next September. Everything is moving in a very positive direction and I am so thankful that my degree in Interdisciplinary Studies has allowed me to embrace life the way I want to.