Helping to make Learning Fun!

ImageBy: Ashlee Gilot, Stepping Stones Prevention Education

My name is Ashlee Gilot and I am a prevention educator in the Stepping Stones Program at YWCA Mclean County.  I began working here on July 9, 2012 and already feel as if I have gained so much knowledge and information to help me become a better leader in the community.  Working at YWCA McLean County is more than just a job to me.  It is an opportunity for me to learn, grow, inspire, educate and empower other individuals.   As a prevention educator, my mission is to educate people on how to keep themselves safe and healthy.

So far, I have been primarily working with kids ages 3-10 and it has been a very rewarding experience for me.  I spend most of my time thinking of different ways to engage the kids and keep their attention.  You may be shocked to hear this, but I have learned very early in my prevention education career that a group of kids will likely not sit and listen to a 20 minute lecture.  So that is where the fun begins!  I get to come up with different activities for the kids to do to help them learn each lesson.  As a musician, everything in my mind is connected to music, and I love that I am able to incorporate that skill here as well.

So far one of my favorite games that I have created is called “Dance, Freeze and Share.”  The kids love this game.  I bring my guitar into the classroom and the kids dance around in a circle.  When the music stops, they suddenly freeze and share something we talked about such as an example of a safe touch, a trusted adult they can talk to, or one of the three steps to safety (Say words that mean no, Get away, Tell a trusted adult).  My goal is to create a fun and creative environment that is conducive to growth and learning.  I also incorporate things such as art work, physical activities, books and movie clips to give the children a different scope and experience with the material.  There are so many serious and important topics that we discuss such as bullying, safe touching vs. unsafe touching, healthy relationships, respect and how to recognize others’ emotions.  As I create lesson plans for the kids that are fun and memorable, they are more likely to pay attention, remember the information they are learning and apply it to their lives.

When I look around me, I see so many things that are detrimental to our kids and to our community.  Still, I believe that as long as there are organizations like YWCA McLean County filled with people who are devoted to evoking change in the community, there is hope.  One of my favorite quotes is “Change happens one choice at a time.”  Some people may look at the problems we face and think that they can never change, but I beg to differ.  As we educate people in our community on how to make healthier choices at work, home, school, with their families, in their relationships and in the community, we can slowly but surely change the world.  I heard this guy named Nelson Mandela say that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” and for some strange reason, I believe him.


7 Comments Add yours

  1. Pat Poppe says:

    Very interesting, creative way to engage young people.


    1. Ashlee Gilot says:

      Thank you Pat, and thank you for taking the time to read my blog entry! 🙂


  2. Shelita says:

    That was a great article Ashlee. It is inspiring to know that educating our youth remains a priority at the YMCA McLean County!!! Thank you for your fun, musical, and other wise, contribution to those kids learning safety. I am sure that in life when ever they encounter situations that requires some quick thinking to staying safe that they will remember what they’ve learned from you. Keep investing in our youth and we just may see things turn around in this world. After all, they are our future…


    1. Ashlee Gilot says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Shelita. That really means a lot!


      1. janstroo says:

        I am SO proud of you! What an investment you are making with your life! An investment in the lives of others always pays multiple dividends – you may save lives, keep kids from unspeakable harm, and help empower them for good things. How wonderful to use your God-given talents for others; you will be blessed beyond measure!.


  3. Diana Allen says:

    ASHLEE – You “get IT”! I’ve been in education 30 years and some times my colleagues and I forget that our students learn by using multiple forms of learning. Your methods of teaching “life-long” messages is actually supported in the literature of how the brain works in establishing learning into long term memory. Kudos to you Ashlee Gilot for sharing your passion for music with positive messages for the children – I’m sure the children will “get IT” for years to come!


    1. Ashlee says:

      Thank you so much, Diana. Coming from someone with 30 years of experience in education, your words and recognition mean a whole lot! Thanks for the encouragement and support!!!


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