Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – My Home is Flint

Name: Sarah McCarter
From: Flint, Michigan (MI)
Grade: Sophomore in college
School: University of Michigan-Flint
Votes: 0

Flint, Michigan is a community plagued by mountain of circumstances holding
us back. These circumstances work against the children of Flint, the
most deserving population. Among many are the lack of services for
children with disabilities. Not everyone in Genesee County has the
financial means to seek extra services outside of school. The
organization I have chosen to volunteer with for the past two years
helps provide crucial services for the development of a child.

I lead a monthly social group for children on the autism spectrum at
the Autism Support & Resource Center of Genesee County (ASRC). I
facilitate play between children and help them interact. This can be
difficult for children living with autism.

I also participate in POWER camp during the summer, a camp run by the
ASRC to give children on the spectrum the opportunity to attend a
summer camp with accommodations especially for their needs. Every
year I also help with the Walk for Autism, an event held to raise
money for the ASRC to do things like build a sensory room and provide
play groups free of charge.

My biggest challenge as a volunteer is also my greatest satisfaction. I
see kids come in who work so hard. Tasks we complete every day, like
drawing a circle or talking to people, can be so difficult for some.
Dealing with noise or a crowded room is so easy for neuro-typical
individual while extremely difficult for others. Seeing kids come in
and conquer a fear like introducing themselves to a peer is the most
satisfying part of volunteering. Kids too shy to introduce themselves
come in months later with excitement to be at a play group with their
peers. Encouraging confidence is a unique opportunity and I cherish

Another volunteer experience I have is working with the Women’s Educational
Center (WEC) at the University of Michigan-Flint. I have coordinated
the annual Sexual Assault Speak Out at the university for two years
in a row. I have collaborated with student groups, the YWCA of
Greater Flint and the WEC to ensure a safe environment with support
for survivors to share their stories and begin to heal.

Forward looking means looking around in my community and seeing what I can do
to help. My community may be up against many challenges but I have
seen great power in people coming together to look forward and plan
for our future. Forward looking is seeing an issue and actively
stepping in to do your part.

I am a nursing student at the University of Michigan-Flint and hope to
become a pediatric nurse. My experiences will help me understand any
child who is having difficulty in their situation. I will be able to
think critically and recognize when a child may be acting out because
of an external issue related to their illness. I will also be able to
thoughtfully communicate and support individuals who have experienced
sexual violence. My plan is to stay in Flint and give back to the
community who shaped me into a thoughtful adult.

Join our Facebook group "Volunteers for a Better World".