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Flora Donovan ’12: Workman Grant Work at Cassidy’s Place
flora donovan 12
September 30, 2009

During my community service project I volunteered for two weeks at Cassidy’s Place, a location of the Association to Benefit Children (ABC). During this time, I was an assistant teacher in one of the classrooms there named the “panda room”. I worked closely with my class, taking care of and playing with the kids there. When I started this project I wanted to work with and help children from disadvantaged backgrounds. I wanted to give them more attention and care than they might receive at home. As a personal goal, I wanted to have more experience working with kids because it is something that I think I’ll be interested in, in the future.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Yesterday marked half of my ABC experience! I can’t believe that there’s only one week left and will be really sad to leave the kids. It has been raining and cloudy all week so they didn’t get to go outside to the two playgrounds as they usually do. There is one on the first floor which is very close to the classroom. The second is on the sixth floor and is not really a playground, but an area with blocks and bikes which they can play on. They have only been able to go out onto the real playground twice because of the bad weather.

The kids have been doing the same kinds of activities for the past three days, although Shamel didn’t come to school for two of them. He had a health issue and then it was someone in his family’s birthday. I’ve learned that Jayden is usually causing trouble somehow, as is Rachel. Jayden doesn’t really know manners and sometimes hits and grabs things from other kids. It’s a problem, but I think he has therapy like a few others do, including Rachel. The most unfortunate thing though, is that the other kids have noticed that he takes things, so they always expect him to be doing something bad. On Friday, Clever, Min, and David were playing with blocks and then they started hiding them under toy helmets. I asked them what they were doing and they replied that they were hiding the toys from Jayden, who at that time was simply eating breakfast. Jayden also doesn’t seem to understand space, and eating manners like waiting until you’ve swallowed before putting more food in your mouth.

Rachel also has issues with listening and doing as she’s told. She doesn’t speak very much and seems to think that everything is a game. She often runs away from us if we are trying to get her to do something like eat breakfast, clean up, or sit in a circle with the other children. Then, she will look back to see if anyone is chasing her, and if no one is, she usually stops. It’s too bad that she’s the only girl in the class because maybe she would feel like she could play better with other girls instead of only boys. On Thursday, she was continuously asking about princesses, which the boys aren’t very interested in.

Another child who has issues is Matthew. He has some sort of disability, but I have not asked what it is. He understands pretty well if you talk to him, but he doesn’t seem able to talk back as well as the other children can. He also doesn’t interact in the same way as the other children do, but maybe that’s because he can’t communicate the same way. I think that probably, if he could talk normally, he wouldn’t stand out from the other kids as much because he would be just a little less good at memorizing and not as coordinated as the others. He is very sweet and is always hugging people.

The kids begin the day when they come in a bit later than nine, and many have breakfast while others play. Then, once it’s about ten, they will usually go out to the playground for an hour or forty-five minutes. Sometimes it takes a while because even though the playground is so close, some of the kids run off onto the playground before a teacher has given them permission, or like Rachel and Benjamin on Wednesday, they will not get out of the jungle gym part of the playground when they’re supposed to. At around eleven they come back inside and have a choice of things to do. Usually there is an art project which they take turns doing, like painting a cardboard box to make it like a fire truck. They also do things like playing in the “kitchen” which has lots of different toys like doctor sets or fake food, or playing on the rug where they can take out different toys such as puzzles, cars, and blocks. After around half an hour, they clean up and it is “circle time”. There, they sing songs like the “days of the week” song and learn and review vocabulary words. This week they learned “transportation” words. After that, they have lunch, brush their teeth and then take a nap. When they wake up, it’s already almost two in the afternoon, and then they go out onto the upstairs playground. Then, they come back and are read to and played with until around three. Afterwards, each is sung the goodbye song, and is either taken home on a bus, picked up, or sent to afterschool. Actually on Friday, Clever and Dayvid were waiting to go to afterschool while I was leaving, but they didn’t want me to leave, which was very cute and made me feel like I had really gotten the hang of things.