Youth Forward Scholarship 2017 – A new perspective

Name: Alana Goodson
From: Mundelein, Illinois
Grade: Juinor
School: Mundelein High School
Votes: 2

Volunteering
is where I find my passion. I am someone who is shaped by my
community, so I feel like it is important to contribute to reaching
its full potential. I have volunteered with many organizations, but
one that is dearest to me is Libertyville Stars. If it had not been
for Stars, I do not think that I would have ever been exposed to many
new perspectives, formed new connections and learned new skills from
a diverse group of people.


In
Libertyville Stars, I help a special group of athletes with
disabilities. I coach them in swimming, helping them with their
techniques and improving their strokes. As easy as that may sound, I
had high levels of anxiety when I first walked out alone onto the
unfamiliar pool deck at Libertyville High School in 2015. Just when I
was having second thoughts, the swimmers walked out of the locker
room. Immediately, my anxiety was alleviated. Every single swimmer
exuded a sense of happiness, and they came to greet me in a genuine
way. They just feel blessed to swim.

Every
Sunday is like a reunion – after greeting her with a warm smile, Mary
is ecstatic to share stories about her eventful weekend. You know
they all truly care for each other because some of the swimmers show
up even when they are sick, just to support their team. This is a
drastic contrast from my swim practices. My team is very routine. We
do not go bounding onto the pool deck, full of fire. We lack passion
– it’s not a reunion every practice. Unlike my swim practice, I
genuinely look forward to coaching these special needs children and
adults every single Sunday.

Through
my experience with Stars, I have accomplished positive strides in
these athletes’ lives. For instance, I have helped improve and
develop their social skills by leading them in groupwork. I assign
them kicking partners with another athlete they may not know. With
Stars, they have been able to build new relationships while
exercising. They have a special bond, and they are motivated by each
other to do their best. Occasionally we even have races between the
different lanes, and they continually work hard even if we can’t be
in the pool with them. I have helped further the development of their
social skills by organizing events like the annual Western themed
party. Stars also serves as an outlet to improve their health each
week. I am proud to be able to contribute to their success in these
aspects of their lives.

Without
community service, I would have never felt this comfortable stepping
out of my comfort zone to meet new people. I also would not have been
introduced to all of the new ways to improve my own team. But most
importantly, without volunteering, I would not have discovered out
the amazing impact I can have on other people’s lives, and how the
athletes at Libertyville Stars has helped me discover where my
passion lies.


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