Since my platform is to promote physical activity in children within the Niagara Region, what better way than getting involved at my school, Brock University. During the last few months of my second year (2013), I volunteered for a program at my school called S.N.A.P. This program stands for Special Needs Activity Program and it offers developmentally appropriate movement education to children and youth with disabilities in the Niagara Region.
Every Thursday, students would volunteer their time from 9a.m to 12p.m. If students had class during those times they would come before or after their class even if it’s just to get an hour in. Now that is dedication to the kids. All volunteers are accepted no matter how much commitment they can make and all volunteers are trained beforehand and receive guidance during the program.
The whole gym is set up by the coordinators with many activities for the children. I’ve never seen so many activities! The kids were in heaven! The children came from schools all across the Niagara Region. Every volunteer was assigned to a child to play with and every week you would get a new child. As well, the coordinators gave out booklets educating us about the disabilities which was very helpful!
It was quite an experience for me. At first I was nervous because I’ve never actually interacted with special needs children before, but I knew I would love it and I did! The children I was assigned varied from introverts to extroverts. I will never forget my first day volunteering and I was assigned this young boy that never stopped moving. I was running from activity to activity trying to keep up to him. I think I got more exercise than he did! One little girl I had was very shy and only wanted to do a few activities. I had to encourage her and show her how much fun it was until she finally agreed to enjoy herself and interact. It was such a rewarding experience to see them smile and have fun and make new friends. S.N.A.P was a great learning experience for me and allowed me to get out of my comfort zone!