Continuing my pursuit of community activism supported by the generosity of Deerfield’s CSGC, during the last week of summer I held an educational community event at my local library that promoted the importance of goal-setting and good habits in young kids, in light of the new school year. The activity titled Be Your Best Self, further supported by the Distinguished Young Women Organization, was comprised of three parts: a powerpoint based on the acronym HAIRS (which I will further explain), engaging activities to encourage implementation with good habits, and musical performances with myself on the violin and a pianist friend I invited to help promote awareness of various genres of music as well as non-academic involvement.
Based upon the outreach program of Distinguished Young Woman, the motivational message focused on the five following qualities in the acronym HAIRS which anyone at any age can improve on: Be Healthy, Be Ambitious, Be Involved, Be Responsible, and Be Studious. While steering clear from more obvious topics such as the importance of exercise, for the topic of health, I emphasized the importance of emotional health in addition to physical health, suggesting children to begin habitually journaling or discover other positive outlets to relieve stress; the importance of habits such as ensuring good mental health in children cannot be overlooked, considering these habits created unconsciously in childhood, whether beneficial or harmful in nature, often follow children into adulthood.
While I prepared multiple interactive activities to help children connect the ideas they were learning with tangible action, this event catered towards children lead me to realize that importance of fully engaging an audience through activities cannot be overlooked, whether presenting towards young kids or the elderly. No matter how interesting you think stories are, there is no way that you will retain the attention of seven year old boys for over 10 minutes unless you have periodic games and whatnot. As is it turns out, many of the comments that I received after my event were about how much fun kids had during exercises where I gathered children from the audience for the wall sit competition (Being Healthy) or the “Simon Says” charades-edition of chores (Being Responsible).
After some musical intermissions, I concluded the program by handing out pledge cards that asked kids to come up with concrete goals, brainstorming ways in which they could each apply their newfound HAIRS habits in their daily routine. It truly warmed my heart to see that the once shy and uncomfortable kids who had clung to their mothers in the beginning were by the end of the program chattering animatedly with new friends, proudly showing off their new blue pledge cards. It was definitely a very insightful experience for myself, creating flyers, coming up with the program content, securing the venue and exploring marketing strategies. The satisfaction of being able to encourage these children and hopefully leave lasting memories through the silly games, music, and pledge cards has made running the Be Your Best Self event incredibly rewarding. I will run another community program next April, following up with the children and discussing the progress they have experienced since creating their goal pledge cards!