Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – SNAP

Name: Kelly Murphy
From: West Grove, PA
Grade: 11
School: Avon Grove High School
Votes: 0

I have been volunteering for a program called “SNAP” which is apart of the
Special Olympics program and available at local YMCA’s. At SNAP,
Volunteers help kids with special needs learn how to swim by teaching
them proper technique, individual strokes, and water safety. I chose
to volunteer for the Special Olympics organization because it has
always held a special place in my heart. Every summer, my mom and I
volunteer for a week at Joni and Friends. This organization holds a
week long getaway camp for people of all ages with both physical or
mental disorders and their families. Each volunteer is assigned a
camper and they spend the week taking them along to the different
camp activities while the parents have their own schedule they
follow. I have such a passion for working with kids with special
needs because of their attitude and outlook on life. For the most
part, they are fun loving and excited to be around you. I have been
volunteering at SNAP every friday night for over a year. The main
skills we focus on at SNAP are kicking their feet, front arm strokes,
back float, and making them comfortable putting their face in the
water. The end goal is for the children to be able to swim on their
own without assistance. As a volunteer, my biggest challenge is when
a child does not want to cooperate. Sometimes one kid refuses to get
into the pool and runs around the outside of the pool deck. If he
does get in the pool, he does not want to swim but instead either
climbs out or splashes around. This is difficult because you are
wasting the majority of the hour that this program runs trying to get
the kid into the pool. I gain the most satisfaction when a child who
has been working very hard starts to pick up the skills and do them
on their own. When you can take your hands away from the child while
their swimming or back floating and know they will not drown but swim
on their own effectively, you know you have done something impactful
for that child and their family. Along with that, seeing the parents
reaction to seeing their child swim on their own and hear them
cheering for their child is very rewarding. The small victories in
life we take for granted, are so momentous to parents with a child
who has a disability. From being a volunteer at a program like this,
I have learned that the importance of the skill of patience. We might
pick up on things quickly, but it will take a child with a disability
longer to pick up on that skill so we have to continually work with
them and motivate them to work hard. This volunteering position has
led me to seek a job as a swim instructor at my local YMCA. The year
of experience doing these lessons has greatly prepared me to be
successful as a paid swim instructor. In twenty years, I believe my
volunteer activities would have made a difference in the child and
their families lives because I gave the child the skills to be safe
in the water and swim on their own, and also gave the parents the
confidence that their child will be safe in the water

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