Personal, technical and workplace skills — the three components that uphold the SkillsUSA framework and have become integrated into a community service project making a difference in the lives …
Personal, technical and workplace skills — the three components that uphold the SkillsUSA framework and have become integrated into a community service project making a difference in the lives of educators in Park County School District 1.
Organized by juniors Sophie Czirr, Kendal Eden and Ava Stearns, the “Fun Friday Child Care” program implemented by this trio is operated on Fridays from 1-4 p.m. twice a month. Targeted toward an average of eight elementary-age children, it has been well received within the school community.
The program was structured around the needs of the SkillsUSA requirements, meant to equip the next generation of students with the skills necessary to provide for the needs of a community.
“Last year they provided child care for Love and Logic Parenting Classes and were a great help for parents to be able to attend classes,” SkillsUSA adviser and health teacher Kandi Bennett said. “This year the SkillsUSA members came up with the service idea and have taken charge of managing, promoting and planning the Fun Friday Child Care; this is what it is all about — students seeing a need and taking the initiative and the lead in making it happen.”
The students and Bennett came up with developing a child care program through a brainstorming session.
“We were talking to Mrs. Bennett about how we wanted to do another community service project but we didn’t know what we wanted to do,” Eden said. “She gave us some ideas and then we ended up on the professional development Fridays, where the teachers have to work, and how we could watch their [the teachers’] kids after school. It was a need to do child care, so we saw the need and have provided.”
Operating on average eight hours a month, this initiative has allowed the upperclassmen to watch over the children of school district employees and provide a secure environment, something that was needed in the district. Special education teacher David Holland has his children in the program and said the SkillsUSA girls helping watch over his kids has alleviated some of his stress.
“When you have young children, child care can be hard,” Holland said. “[It can be] a struggle to find students … it’s hard because they [potential babysitters] are involved in activities or sports … especially on Fridays. It definitely makes us parents feel more comfortable, so that way when we are going to our meetings, you don’t have that anxiety to go check on your child every five to 10 minutes.”
In addition to the sense of security that is provided by the program, there is a set structure that has been enforced by the girls to simulate the real world and give the young elementary schoolers a place to be watched over, while still making it a fun experience.
“Now we have a schedule where they will come in and we do an outside
activity where they get a bunch of energy out, and then a snack time,” Eden said. “This helps the kids because they are learning more social skills in this given time. It’s scary to be a kindergartner in the high school so we are just helping them learn that they can do those ‘scary’ things.”
The influence the three girls have isn’t exclusive to expanding social skills in young children — the overall point conveyed is that it doesn’t take much to make a difference.
“These few hours honestly [aren’t] a big inconvenience for us,” Czirr said. “Something simple as taking a few hours out of your day to help people makes a big impact … [especially] on these parents that do have those meetings. So, ultimately, though it is benefiting us, you know, we get to spend time with these kids and learn valuable skills. I would say that the ultimate message is just that taking a few hours out of your day can really help someone else, in more ways than you realize.”
The SkillsUSA Framework exemplifies how “students fulfill the mission of the organization: to empower members to become skilled professionals, career-ready leaders and responsible community members.” All the students involved in the program have some ambition of health care in their futures. Through the implementation of this program, it gives them the opportunity to start their pursuits in a semi-professional manner and prove how a little bit of effort goes a long way.
“The surveys and the newsletters are helpful because the communication is very clear,” Holland said, adding, “They are taking a lot of time and effort to make it not just this room where the kids come in and play. They are actually having the intention and purpose with working with those kids. Every week my children look forward to it.”
(This story was reprinted with permission from The Prowl)