Greene County News Report
YELLOW SPRINGS – An Antioch University Midwest (AUM) student who has seen firsthand the lengths desperate, hungry people will go to in order to provide food for their families will participate in a prestigious leadership summit for college students focused on the issues of food security, mental health and human trafficking in Ohio. Kelly Krestalhoffer, who is pursuing a degree in Early Childhood Education at AUM’s School of Education, will attend the Propel Ohio Collegiate Leadership Summit 2015 on Friday, Oct. 16 at The Ohio State University.
“The greatest gift that I can give to any child, is a community and a world with the least possible amount of violence, hunger, neglect and discrimination, so if f I am serious about creating a positive classroom community, I must remain dedicated to my goal of creating a more positive world,” Krestalhoffer said. “Food security, along with child welfare, lays the groundwork upon which mental health issues and human trafficking are based. Food insecurity does not exist in a bubble: it is impacted by many other social patterns, from unfair wages to abusive relationships, which increase the types of toxic stress that lead to and complicate mental health problems.”
Krestalhoffer, who lives in Dayton, was selected after Julie Biddle, AUM’s chair of the Teacher Licensure Program and core faculty member, recommended her for the summit. Krestalhoffer submitted an application, which was reviewed by the event’s host, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, and was notified that she was one the college students selected to participate in the one-day leadership program that promotes civic engagement to inspire and empower undergraduate students to grow into civic leaders in Ohio. Speakers and workshops will focus on ways college students can tackle key issues in their Ohio communities.
“Becoming interwoven with southwestern Ohio has given me a perspective that college never could have, and now that I am nearing graduation I am preparing to act on this learning and create a better world than the one I have known thus far,” said Krestalhoffer, who has lived in southwestern Ohio for the last 10 years.
Before completing her degree at AUM, she worked “seemingly unremarkable” jobs at Wal-Mart and various childcare roles. To add meaning to her day-to-day work, she volunteered relentlessly, providing free respite care to families at St. Vincent de Paul, crocheting items for families in need and serving food to the needy. She credits that work as laying her foundation for social justice-focused work, one of the tenets of AUM’s philosophy.
“Now I am one year from completing my degree at Antioch University; in one year I will be licensed to foster the development and learning of young children ages zero through 8,” she said. “I believe that children are drawn to, and eventually recreate, the loving actions of others. By modeling behavior that is based on ideals of love for all people, justice, and freedom, I have a powerful opportunity to lay the foundation for young people to have a wider lens in looking at the world.”
At the close of the summit’s program, Krestalhoffer and other attendees will participate in an internship fair featuring organizations tackling food security, mental health and human trafficking issues in Ohio.
Greene County News Report compiled by Whitney Vickers.