Before beginning my volunteer work I faced quite a dilema. Where could I influence children, help them develop their leadership potential, educate them about agriculture, and have fun-all at the same time?
After a single telephone call to the Children’s Hospital Volunteer Services Coordinators, I learned that volunteers were readily accepted to serve within the hospital’s recreational therapy deparment. When they asked my reason for volunteering, I explained to them that I wanted to help the children develop their leadership potential as well as other abilities. The members of volunteer services seemed excited.
On the first evening of service, I was prepared, yet scared that I would say something wrong or the children there would not accept my ideas. When I arrived, the group was small, as promised since it was a Saturday and many of the hospital guests were out with their parents or home for a fun weekend of activities. The children and youth who were there, however, gathered 'round for some of the activities I had planned. First, I made it a point to learn everyone's name which meant that I played a few games of modified pool and did a few activities with everyone before beginning what I had planned. I then found that the patients were much more receptive to my ideas because I had showed them I cared.
We began our activities with spaghetti flowers, which involved the use of spaghetti and (edible) marshmallows. Although the teenage boys weren't too receptive to the flower idea, I found that they enjoyed making marshmallow creatures and scenes just as much as everyone else. This acitivity was designed to make everyone aware of the strengths which they possess, and I found that many of the residents had artistic qualitites that set them apart from the rest! We followed this activity with some creative time using color-change markers. Everyone made name tags for their doors, and some of them, being incredibly generous, made cards for their friends who were not in the hospital that evening.
My second and third visits took place on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday evening was similar to what I had experienced before, but everyone was distracted by all of the other games and...