Name: Kaitlyn Jackson
From: Somerset, Kentucky
Grade: College Freshman
School: Lindsey Wilson College
Before college my volunteer work was strictly to meet the requirement of my
school’s National Honor Society chapter. I knew volunteering was
good, and that helping others was the right thing to do, however, I
was not something I was committed within my own heart to do. Upon
entering college I became a Bonner Scholar, a member of a program
that prides itself on its work toward and beliefs in: civic
engagement, social justice, community building, spiritual
exploration, international perspective, and diversity.
Since August my attitude toward volunteering has drastically changed. I
have dedicated 344 hours to the betterment of my community, with a
majority of my hours coming from my work with the local after school
programs and volunteering at The Center for Courageous Kids or CCK,
which is a camp for physically disabled and ill children.
I have become a leader in the after school program that I volunteer
with, overseeing the drama club, and aiding children with their
homework. I have been able to form bonds between children, that much
like myself at their age, do not have the best homelife, and it is
incredibly rewarding. However, I have had my fair share of challenges
along the way. To say I have stepped out of my comfort zone in these
past months would be an understatement, and of all my service CCK has
pushed me the most. I have dedicated three weekends at The Center for
Courageous Kids, that is 96 hours of being responsible for a child,
or children, with physical disabilities/illnesses. At CCK we go
fishing, boating, swimming, horseback riding, make crafts in
woodshop, and have a generally wonderful time, but at the beginning
of my first weekend I was completely nervous.
In late August I spent my first weekend at CCK, the weekend was
dedicated to children suffering from Spinal Muscular Atrophy and
Muscular Dystrophy. I had been warned that this weekend was
particularly hard due to the hindrances these children faced. Many
kids at camp that weekend were non-verbal, non-motor, and were fed
To me this seemed like a horrible existence, I know I would not be
strong enough to accept such challenges, yet these children did
accept their challenges and continued to smile and enjoy life despite
them. My camper’s name was Wesley, and he was confined to a
wheelchair, but that didn’t stop him. Though Wesley had every
reason to be bitter, and resentful, he was none of those things, and
that weekend raced, fished, bowled, and swam.
My first weekend at CCK taught me that despite my hesitations I can be a
competent caregiver and counselor to a child with health challenges.
Wesley, and all my campers at CCK after him, have taught me to
appreciate that I have the ability to walk, talk, eat, and run, but
they also taught me that obstacles should never stop me from enjoying
my life every single day.