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Empowering After School Program
Tiny smiles when something ‘clicks’
By Madisyn Pieper, Edison Volunteer

I completed over 24 hours of volunteering for the After School Program. During that time I had some great conversations and moments with the children. In reflection I wish that I could have given more time to the program but it was hard to find time while being a full time college student with two jobs.

In my personal opinion I believe that this program could make the difference for a child who may be on the edge at a crucial point in childhood. I believe that if a child is struggling to not fall behind in school it may be hard to ask for help or try to keep up with others on their own. It may be especially difficult if they are having issues in other areas as well. With the After School Program it may be easier for a child to ask for and receive help, subsequently making it easier to stay on track with their peers. It may also provide somewhere that they feel they can talk with a trusted mentor. I believe that being able to keep up academically from earlier in a child’s education career will make it easier for them to keep up later on and that they will know it is okay for something to not make sense and need help.

From participating in the program I gained a better sense of what it is to help someone learn from early on, all the way down to the basics of reading and writing. I believe that participating in the program was very rewarding. I enjoyed all of the tiny smiles that came from the small things, such as an extra cookie to when something clicks and they understand. The pictures that the children would draw may have seemed silly at first but it is nice to know that you made a kid happy and they tried to draw a picture so they could give it to you and make you feel the same joy. Even for those who do not plan on going into a career with children I believe the program is good experience and it can provide a new perspective and appreciation.

Edison’s core value were strongly demonstrated through the After School Program, especially when looking at time with a focus on communication. The first core value of communication was demonstrated in many ways, whether it was communicating with other volunteers, to communicating with the children. If a problem arose, teamwork was even needed to find a solution between everyone. While working together as a team, not only was communication used, but critical thinking as well. Critical thinking was needed to finish homework, projects, conflict and many other issues, also helping to ethically find the best outcome for the task. The program also ran smoothly because of the diversity present not only among the volunteers, but among the children. The diversity gave many different outlooks and ways of completing a task or just having fun with some new ideas. Many, if not all, of the children wanted knowledge about something new when encountering it.

From the first day of the program until towards the end great progress was made toward making the program run more smoothly. I believe that in future groups having the books organized will become a great help to ensure that the children can easily find the books that they need and are at appropriate reading levels. Another suggestion that I have is possibly setting the homework groups according to grade, so that it is easier to complete and stay on task. It became challenging when trying to work with five children and all but two of them are in a different grades, consequently making it where we had to bounce between several assignments. A final suggestion that I have is to possibly set a separate room just for the children who have to read. I noticed if a child had no homework/completed all homework and only had reading left that it was harder for them to stay on task and focus with other noise and commotion going on.

Madisyn has completed 24.75 hours in Empowering Darke County Youth’s After School Program on the Edison Darke County Campus. To get details about her assignment, go to Edison Students Speak Out

To get more details about Empowering Darke County Youth and the After School Program, go to the Empowering Darke County Youth link.

This opinion is being published with permission, and was chosen for CNO readers due to the quality of the assignment submission and relevance of the topic. It does not necessarily represent the opinion of County News Online or Edison State Community College.

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