They are always ready, willing and able to help someone. Huntington High School’s Natural Helpers are teenagers who have been selected by their peers and trained to assist classmates who are struggling with a variety of situations.
Huntington’s Natural Helpers participate in an overnight retreat and ongoing training so that they have the tools required when a classmate needs them. They can handle a wide range of situations and they always keep what they are told confidential.
A group of Natural Helpers and Life Skills program students joined together and played an after school kickball game last week. To say that everyone had fun would be an understatement.
Freshmen Natural Helpers Kianna Criscuola and Teddi Carnesi “are the ones who pulled this all together,” said Robert Gilmor III, a high school dean who also serves as the Natural Helpers’ faculty advisor. “They have plans for monthly events next year and for years to follow.”
Ms. Criscuola and Ms. Carnesi are dynamic young women who have excelled as ninth graders. Both are on Huntington’s High Honor Roll, which requires a minimum academic grade average of 95.
“Kianna and I started to brainstorm ideas last winter for events that Natural Helpers can do with the Life Skills kids,” Ms. Carnesi said. “We felt that students needed to be more connected and involved with them because they are such great and inspiring kids.”
The two teenagers sent an e-mail to Like Skills teacher Erica Murphy-Jessen to share their plans. “She was super helpful and grateful,” Ms. Criscuola said. “For next year, we are planning to have a monthly activity with Life Skills kids. In April, for Autism Awareness Month, we would like to have a big event that celebrates the Life Skills kids. All would be welcome to come.”
Last week’s kickball game played out on the softball field on a gorgeous afternoon. “The game was a great success,” Mr. Carnesi said. “Every single kid had a smile on their face and had a great time. It was so heartwarming to hear the kids’ laughs, cheers and excitement to play.”
Phoebe Walther was among the Natural Helpers participating in the kickball game and the senior will hold the memory of the afternoon near and dear to her heart as she prepares to head off to SUNY Geneseo to study for a teaching career.
“Kianna and Teddi did a great thing by organizing the game,” Ms. Walther said. “I hope they continue to do that all the time. I think it was a great experience for the Natural Helpers and the Life Skills kids. It’s a perfect time to make connections with those amazing kids. I would do something like that every day after school. I had such a great time. It brightened my day.”
The Natural Helpers have only just begun. “We are extremely excited to continue to work with the Life Skills class and get more students involved,” Ms. Criscuola said.