In their last semester at HWS, Callie Frelinghuysen ’12 and Amanda Davis ’12 volunteered with the American Red Cross in the Finger Lakes as part of the service learning project required for the course, “Human Growth and Development.” The women, both Heron athletes, created and taught a first aid and safety class for preschoolers.
“The goal of the project is to have students placed with a community partner so they can observe some of the phenomena of human change that we are discussing in class,” explains Brian Stiehler, instructor in the Department of Education.
“The students are encouraged to observe phenomena related to cognitive development, social development and physical development for the age-group that they are working with. They were encouraged to see what limitations of these abilities do people in this age show, and what aspects are poised for future growth.” He notes Frelinghuysen and Davis spent the majority of their time working with children ages 3 to 6 years old.
Their mentor at the Red Cross was Vista Volunteer Doris Wolf, who calls working with the two women “a special treat!” She learned that Davis was creating her own major around movement and exercise, and challenged her and Frelinghuysen to create a 20-minute class for preschoolers incorporating movement – with handouts- that would teach kids the importance of exercise.
“The two athletes were so good with the kids,” says Wolf. “They were warm and encouraging and the kids loved them. They taught hundreds of children about exercise and first aid and how to call 911, and made a real difference in Seneca County.”
Because they were athletes with busy schedules of studies, practices and games, they had to be flexible and creative to fit in the required time and be able to present the class to so many children. Among the creative solutions they developed with Wolf was holding planning meetings over 8 a.m. breakfasts.
“I personally am proud of how willing the students in my classes have been undertaking the service learning project,” says Stiehler. “It is relieving to see and help push people to be agents of change in a world that seems to be growing more and more challenging.”
Annually close to 350 students in 20 different courses contribute 9,000 hours of service through course based service-learning opportunities. Students are able to make meaningful connections between their assigned readings, class discussion, and what they learn during their weekly commitments to their community agencies.
“The experience of Callie and Amanda represents one of more than 20 fruitful service-learning partnerships through classes such as Brian’s,” says Katie Flowers, director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning.