By: Rachel Smith
Last week marked the first week back to school since spring break, and refreshingly, the resuming of normal classes after TCAP. For corps members, this spring break was very different than the stereotypical beach vacations many of our friends were taking. This year, we all signed up for the highly anticipated spring break inquiry cycles. March’s cycle was the third in a series of 4-part trainings, which took place on Fridays in the months of November and February. Each of the trainings were headed by one or two corps members who planned and facilitated speakers, fieldwork, and service projects centering around an issue impacting our students and our service.
As a corps, we had already had two great sessions, with groups including local politics, environmental justice, and homelessness. I had the honor of leading February’s food justice inquiry cycle. This was an amazing experience for my leadership development; planning four days’ worth of engaging and informative activities for 18 peers was not easy work, but the resulting success was worth every phone call, email, and hour of backwards planning it took to organize everything.
Needless to say, I was excited to be a participant in this round, and cannot thank the facilitators enough for planning three and a half consecutive days’ worth of material. Everyone in the corps that I talked to had an amazing week, and from the presentations each group gave on Friday, you could tell that not one corps member lacked a new passion for the issue they had explored.
I was a part of the group looking at issues of health and wellness in Denver, with our students, and among corps members. Many of our activities focused on being outdoors, exploring what the city had to offer, and reflecting on our own self-care as corps members (something that does not get done nearly enough).
Our week began with a powerful day of service cooking lunch at the Ronald McDonald house. It was an amazing day filled with shared laughter and great food. It was so nice to get to talk with the residents, hearing their stories, and in some cases just making small talk. It is easy to forget how much sharing a meal and conversation can mean to your health. Some other highlights of our week included taking a trip to Boulder to hike, speaking with a member of City Planning about increasing access to public transportation, and yoga led by our very own Team Leader John.
As a corps member, it is easy to let self-care fall by the wayside in our busy schedules. This spring break, I was reminded that physical and mental health is the foundation to powerful service. Not only can we as corps members not perform to our best abilities when we are tired, stressed, and eating poorly, but neither can our students. Yes, homework is important, but so is encouraging kids to get outside, be active, eat right, and take a minute to just breathe.