VolunTEEN Spotlight: Laurel Cunningham

Guest blog post by Laurel Cunningham- Laurel, a sophomore at Harpeth Hall, is one of 13 HON Youth Volunteer Corps Interns, serving in the 2012-2013 class. Each month, she plans and leads two fitness and nutrition-focused lessons that engage the children served by the Fannie Battle Day Home For Children after-school program.

Laurel (front row, third from the left) and the other HON youth interns – What an inspiring group of young leaders!

I am Laurel Cunningham, a Youth Volunteer Corps Intern with Hands On Nashville. I have been assigned to teach the adorable children at Fannie Battle Day Home for Kids about health and nutrition. Along with these twice-a-month lessons, I am also helping plan and organize HON’s community service events. In addition to these two roles, I also have the opportunity of meeting several other wonderful interns who teach children at nonprofits throughout Nashville.

Although I love all aspects of the internship equally, teaching at Fannie Battle is my favorite. Here’s a snapshot of what the experience is like for me:

bikes-2Every other Tuesday, I walk into the bustling center and see dozens of four-foot-tall kids running around, eating snack, and doing their homework. As they line up to come to my lesson, they try to peer in my bag to get a sneak preview of the day’s lesson. Their deceiving, cute little smiles also try to convince me to let them just play games all day.

“Can we PLEASE play a running game today,” shriek the children.

“If we have time left over,” I reply, hoping to finish my lesson and allow time for a quick tag-team game.

Once we get settled in an open area, usually seated in a circle, the lesson begins. The lessons are all interactive and hands-on. One of my favorite lessons I have taught so far was called “H2O.” The kids learned about the value of water and how important it is to drink enough every day. Isugar-content-of-soda have them each their own plastic water bottles to decorate. While they were decorating, I pulled out plastic baggies filled with sugar.

Each baggy had the name of a popular soft drink and had the exact amount of sugar in the baggy as in an actual can of that drink. The kids were shocked by what they were drinking, and even the faculty at Fannie Battle vowed to drink more water and fewer soft drinks!

This year, I hope to teach the kids about what is so good about vegetables and fruits, teach them new games that they can recreate on their own, and show them how to bake food that is healthier for them. So far, I feel that I have started to obtain my goals with the children.

Every time I leave Fannie Battle, I spend my whole car ride home thinking about I can’t wait to go back!

About the Hands On Nashville’s Youth Volunteer Corps Internship
Hands On Nashville Youth Volunteer Corps Interns serve as a leadership team that works with HON staff to develop and lead youth projects and initiatives to benefit the community. Interns gain experience designing and facilitating educational and skill-building lessons for youth served by area nonprofits. Each applicant can choose from one of the following three concentrations: Arts, Fitness and Nutrition, or Technology. The intern team also gains experience in co-leading large service events in the community.

Youth Internship applications for next year will be available in February 2013. Interested in getting regular updates about youth leadership and volunteer opportunities with Hands On Nashville?
> Sign up to receive our VolunTEEN e-newsletter. 
> Join the HON VolunTEEN Facebook page.

1 thought on “VolunTEEN Spotlight: Laurel Cunningham

  1. Hi Laurel,
    LOVED your lesson called “rethink your drink!” Converting the ingredients….grams of sugar into visual teaspoons must have been shocking for the kids and something they will never forget! You are doing great stuff in the community. Thanks for sharing your work and insights!
    Julie Sherman (Jaclyn’s mom)

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