My Biggest Accomplishment

By Aria Nelson/American Red Cross Intern

Red Cross intern Aria Nelson
Red Cross intern Aria Nelson. Photo credit: Charlotte Bernsohn/American Red Cross.

I’m so happy I had the chance to be an intern with the American Red Cross.  As a senior at Winona State University majoring in Health Promotion, I needed a 600-hour internship to graduate in May. I came across the preparedness internship in my search, and man am I happy I did!

When I began my internship in January, my task was simple:  find and fill gaps in fire safety knowledge in the community. After much research and discussion, I focused my efforts on children. I turned to the Red Cross preparedness team for help with creating a fire safety event for children from scratch. After weeks of planning, revising, and set building, it was gratifying to see the event come to life on April 3.

It was exciting to see around 100 kids stream into the recreation room at the Boys and Girls Club in St. Paul and interact with each of the six fire safety stations we had created.  Each interactive station focused on a specific fire safety topic: creating an escape plan, cooking safety, fire hazards in the home, how to make an emergency kit and be prepared, candle safety, and how to get low and go.

An interactive education station during the “fire safety academy.” Photo credit: Charlotte Bernsohn/American Red Cross.

While facilitating the event, I noticed how the children were engaged at each station. I was happy to see the children making connections and truly learning lifesaving information about home fire safety.  For example, I remember watching a girl take time to think about how to escape from her house during a fire and then drawing it on graph paper. The need for this event was driven home when a boy came up and said, “I live in an apartment and I have no idea how I would get out.”

Through my internship experience at the American Red Cross I’ve done a variety of things, from gathering and assessing preparedness surveys to presenting, on my own, to community groups as well as to children in schools. Presentations became one of my favorite things to do. You would have never heard me say that in college!

I’ve been reflecting on my experience at the Red Cross. I can’t imagine having been anywhere else. I’m so grateful for this opportunity, the people I’ve met along the way, and the incredible amount of experience I have gained.  A special thanks to those who helped with the “fire safety academy” for children. Everyone did an amazing job educating and engaging the children. My hope is that this program will carry on when I am gone.

 Click here to learn more about Red Cross opportunities.


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