Category Archives: Summer Camp

Summer Camp Week 3 Addresses Hunger & Homelessness

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On July 15, we concluded our final week of Summer Camp at Hands On Nashville, and we have to say, it’s been an educational summer!

After a week of focusing our attention on the environment, and a week exploring health and wellness issues, we engaged young people in a third week of service-learning activities exploring issues of hunger and homelessness.

The goal of the week was to inspire campers to make a positive change by becoming more attuned to  how hunger and homelessness affects those in our community. Much of our week was spent at Nashville organizations that focus on affecting these issue areas.

Given the hardships hunger and homelessness present to our fellow community members, this final session brought challenging moments. As campers confronted stereotypes and participated in service projects, we shared positive moments of camaraderie and understanding.

Here’s a look at few of the week’s highlights:

Park Center Visit

On day one, our friends at Park Center set the stage for campers by showing us first hand accounts of how being without shelter affects Nashvillians. Park Center’s mission is to empower people who have mental illness and substance use disorders to live and work in their communities through a variety of services. We’re grateful for their staff taking the time to help campers increase their understanding.

BELL Garden Project

During the week, campers dug around in the Bellevue Edible Learning Lab! BELL Garden is solely volunteer run and provides a local food pantry with its only source of fresh produce. Local gardens such as these help to provide fresh and healthy food in areas where fresh, nutritious foods are hard to access. Thanks BELL Garden!

More than a Paper

Campers also made a visit to speak with the staff and vendors at The Contributor. Thanks to The Contributor, a.k.a. the “street paper,” many people experiencing homelessness and many who are formerly homeless earn a steady source of income. For many formerly homeless vendors, income earned selling newspapers empowered them to achieve housing. Pretty great, right? And, not only does The Contributor newspaper help individuals earn a living, it also helps connect those individuals to their community. One piece of advice we got from The Contributor was to not just give money for the paper, but to take it and read it. Taking the paper not only gives vendors a sense of pride from fulfilling the transaction, you help the paper boosts their sales!

071416_Health & Wellness WM-4Second Harvest Green Bean Sorting

Green beans anyone? At Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, campers helped sort through huge boxes of green beans by discarding any that were not edible. Second Harvest is one of the largest food bank operations in the area and provides food to fight hunger across Middle Tennessee.

071416_Health & Wellness WM-5Open Table Immersive Experience

Arguably the most poignant moments of the week came during an immersive experience downtown led by Open Table Nashville . With their team, campers were able to speak with people experiencing homelessness and listen to their stories first hand. This experience was powerful for the group as it showed us that everyone has a story and it usually isn’t what we expect. Campers learned how some individuals became homeless and why they have not been able to get out of homelessness.

Open Table works closely with the homeless as their advocate, as their friend, and as their resource. One way we can all help, Open Table staff communicated, is to understand that everyone has a story and everyone deserves food in their belly and a place to call home.

071416_Health & Wellness WM-3Old School Farm Garden Project

Campers had a blast harvesting carrots with Old School Farm, an organization that provides fresh food to the community, while also employing and training individuals with intellectual disabilities. During our visit, Old School Farm leaders explained how disabilities, be they medical, intellectual or physical, can be barriers to employment work. Their efforts seek to provide those employment opportunities, as well as to fight hunger.

Room in the Inn Tour & Service Activity

On the last day of camp, the group toured Room in the Inn, whose mission is to provide programs that emphasize human development and recovery through education, self-help and work, centered in community and long term support for those who call the streets of Nashville home. Here, campers helped the organization prepare for an annual festival for  Room in the Inn visitors designed to make them feel connected, welcome and stress-free.

Thank You!

Thank you to each of the organizations who supported this year’s summer camp. You all enriched these service-learning experiences and we thank you all for the work you do every day in our community!

And to the campers: our hope is that Summer Camp has had as great of an impact on you, as you made on our community. Thanks for a great summer.

Ready to volunteer? Sign up at HON.org.

2016 Summer Camp Recap: Health & Wellness!

Hands On Nashville’s second week of Summer Camp was full of more projects, friendships, and fun!

From learning about healthy eating, to discussing stress management, to talking through best practices for living an overall healthy lifestyle, the group explored issues of health and wellness over the five day camp. Each afternoon, campers participated in service-learning projects at a different organization working to improve the health and wellness of our community and its individuals.

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Hospital Hospitality House Service Project

At Hospital Hospitality House, an organization that provides low-cost accommodations to patients and families facing medical crisis, campers helped with outdoor beautification projects like weeding, picking up trash, clearing rocks away from pathways, and sprucing up the courtyards. Tasks like these can seem small, but they are a big help to organizations that rely on volunteers to help them continue to do the work they do!

Soles4Souls Shoe Sorting Service Project

Soles4Souls is an international organization that provides shoes to those in need in the US, and in 127 countries around the world! During Health and Wellness Week, campers sorted more than 1,000 pairs of shoes that will reach those in need around the globe. Now that’s a good feeling!

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Cooking up something good.

What says health and wellness more than good food? Every day, campers worked together to prepare healthy lunches and snacks that honed their cooking skills as well as their taste buds.

Campers also took part in discussions on larger food security and access issues facing our communities, including the ease and accessibility of non-nutritious fast food, which can often seem like the best choice based on access and affordability.  During lunch, campers practiced basic cooking skills, took home step-by-step recipes, and learned from nutritionists about the different benefits that eating nutritious food can have on the body.

 

Bike Refurbishment Project at Oasis Center

For the second camp week in a row, we traveled to the Oasis Center’s Bike Workshop for a bike refurbishment project!  The Oasis Bike Workshop provides young people a place to go and fix their bikes, as well as learn how to maintain them. During the project, campers learned useful bike-fixing skills and refurbished bikes that will be donated to local students through Hands On Nashville’s ReCYCLE for Kids program this July.

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Pickles, anyone?

Thanks to Sally Rausch, our very own fermentation guru and YVC Urban Agriculture Education AmeriCorps Member, campers learned about health the benefits of naturally preserved foods, not to mention it is a good way to use excess produce from the garden! Each camper made their own jar of preservative-free pickles to take home and eat in a couple of weeks.

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Project C.U.R.E. service project.

Ever wonder what happens to excess or used medical equipment? During Health and Wellness week, campers sorted medical supplies at Project C.U.R.E., a nonprofit that collects donated medical supplies and distributes them all over the world to developing countries. The campers learned that these supplies can mean the difference between life and death and  experienced first-hand how saving materials from landfills can make a huge difference for the health and well-being of those in need.

Thank you, campers!

A big shout out to our volunteer leaders this week, Jackson and Dhara, as well as all of our speakers and project coordinators — we could not do it without you!

Looking to get involved? Sign up for a volunteer project at HON.org.

2016 Summer Camp Recap: Environment Week!

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On June 6, Hands On Nashville’s Youth Volunteer Corps launched its three-week summer camp with five days of service-learning focused around the environment!

After a week of volunteer leader training, two of our “Hyped on Help”ers, Abi and Hallie (pictured above), led their group in team building activities, participating in service projects, and end-of-day reflections. Every day of environment week brought new projects, new speakers, and new challenges. Overall, the campers learned about issues facing our global environment, and more specifically, how everyday actions can have a larger impact than we think on the world around us.

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During a visit to the Cumberland River Compact, a Nashville water conservation nonprofit, the campers learned how people affect their surrounding waters through an interactive watershed model. They learned about flood effects in urbanized areas, water contamination from various different sources, issues facing the Cumberland River, and the limitations of Earth’s water supply. On a smaller scale, campers learned personal tips and tricks for combating these issues.

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At the OASIS bike workshop, the campers were able to get hands on experience servicing and caring for a bike. Later in the day, they also learned the environmental importance of alternate methods of transportation, such as biking and walking, and the impact they can have on reducing carbon emissions in the environment. The bikes that the campers helped refurbish are part of  ReCYCLE for Kids, a larger project to recycle used bikes and distribute them to children living in underserved neighborhoods.

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Nothing says environment week like a stream cleanup! During a project at Coopers Creek, campers were able to remove eight bags of trash and cleaned about 1,056ft of natural waterway. The removal of debris from waterways improves the quality of the water as well as the habitats that depend on it!

2016 YVC Environment Camp-5A visit from Urban Green Lab gave campers an interactive look into sustainable concepts and how we can adapt to a more sustainable lifestyle. The new solar-powered Mobile Lab was an amazing tool for learning about energy use, waste, food production, water conservation and more! The campers especially loved the energy-saving, human-powered blender! Fruit smoothies on a hot summer day were the perfect cap to learning about sustainability. Thanks, Urban Green Lab, for bringing out your mobile lab!

2016 YVC Environment Camp-6To end the week, campers were given a small budget for Nashville’s recycled arts and crafts store, Smart Art, to pick out materials to create an upcycled art project. So much of what we use goes to waste, so an upcycle craft is the perfect way to visualize how something old can be turned into something new! Campers were able to craft while watching Dr. Seuss’s, The Lorax. We had some amazing projects but the winner of the upcycle challenge was Ava with her 100% recycled coat hanger! (Can you spot the eyeglasses?)

Thank you to all those who participated in this week, it would not have been the same without you!

To learn more about Hands On Nashville, and how you can volunteer, visit HON.org.