Youth Forward scholarship summer 2016 – Summer School

Name: Jewel Delcastillo
From: Jacksonville, Florida
Grade: 11
School: Mandarin High
Votes: 0

Jewel
Delcastillo

National
Driving and Traffic School

Youth
Forward

1
September 2016

Summer
School

The summer before my high school freshman year, my neighbor offered me a
chance to volunteer at her school. Intrigued by the idea, I accepted
at once. When the time came for the school to commence, I had no idea
what to expect. I met with my neighbor, Mrs. Patty, and her niece at
oh-dark-thirty for the half-hour drive. During that time, she vaguely
explained the situation. She taught at a special needs school. The
student’s weren’t much trouble, but for the most part they were
like toddlers.

When we got to the school, Hannah (the niece) showed me where to sign in
and sign out every day. The tiny front office had large doorways
accommodated wheelchair traffic to the large cafeteria and branching
hallways. Luckily, Mrs. Patty’s room was not far from the
cafeteria, so there was little chance of me getting lost.

Walking in to the room was unbelievable. Color and fun shapes were
everywhere. A corkboard took up most of one wall, but that didn’t
stop the magnets, posters and pictures from taking over it. An
oversized calendar took up a large portion of the whiteboard, magnets
decorating the spaces to tell us the month, the day of the week, the
date, and cute little weather representations. Pictures of adorable
animals competed for space with encouraging words on the white walls.
The front left corner was occupied by a small desk and two bookcases,
obviously the teacher’s desk. It too was covered with color and
homey clutter. Still, with all the colors and shapes, the whiteness
of the room shined through. It wasn’t bad; it brightened the very
air itself, ensuring cleanliness. The middle of the room was occupied
by a few tables, two or three armchairs, and loose chairs. Hannah
pulled me into the back of the room that my mind ignored a moment
ago. There was a handicap bathroom for the kids, a small “kitchen”
area, and a closet. The kitchen area had a microwave, assorted sippy
cups, and a refrigerator. The closet seemed magic; it looked bigger
inside than out! Good thing, too: every centimeter of shelving was
occupied with everything from books to googly eyes to seasonal
decorations to anything else artsy I could think of. It was
beautiful.

After some (surprisingly yummy) breakfast from the cafeteria, the students
began to show up. Her students consisted of teenagers who had a lot
of deformities. These deformities rendered them incapable of caring
for themselves. In fact, most of them couldn’t even speak anything
but garbled nonsense. But as sad as that may seem, the kids were
happy! They were cared for, loved, and were given attention.

And helping them was so much fun! At first I felt awkward and unsure,
especially when the time came to feed them. However, by day three, I
had the hang of it. And the kids seemed to like me, too. I played
toss with them, sang songs about the months and days of the week for
them, and took walks with them. There were very few unhappy campers,
and most everyone got along.


The time had passed so quickly that it could have been three weeks
instead of a 50 hour week. But I still think back to my time
volunteering at the school, smiling at the memories of playing games,
singing, and taking walks with the students. And while this volunteer
opportunity had hardly anything to do with what I want to do in life,
I very much enjoyed it. I hope those students continue to grow up
feeling loved and safe, and remember that once a little girl came to
school to play with them.


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