Yesterday was a very bittersweet day.
It was the last day of the Rec and Read — an after-school program aimed to elementary students in which where we let them engage in low-organised gym games, and also some reading activities. The program runs on Mondays and Wednesdays; Mondays are reserved for planning and prep, while Wednesdays are the days we get to be with the kids. In the first few weeks into the program, I have to say that the feeling was nerve-wracking. None of us (in general) had a thorough hands-on interaction with children — especially me, this was a totally new setting. Kids weren’t my speciality.
Luckily, we spent a few weeks of mentorship training with our university mentors (U of M students from Kiniesiology/Rec/Phys. Ed working to teach us) to prepare for the time that we finally get to spend time with the kids. We brainstormed on games, activities, strategies — even took CPR training! Around 5 weeks was spent simulating, running through different games, organising, planning, and a lot of snacks. Even with all that mentoring, I wasn’t still that confident — but that changed pretty quickly.
As I slowly got to know the kids, found our comfort zones and vice versa — I slowly learned about myself and my own capabilities. What I can do, what I have to do better, and what the people around me can do. I think I can speak for the whole group about this too, because as time passed by we got to know about each other’s strengths as well — working our way into an efficient team. Through the months that this program ran, we grew from inexperienced students to almost-awesome student mentors that the kids learned to love in our few weeks together.
Unfortunately, some of the best things in life end quickly. Here we were, facing the end of the program we loved more and more every week — saying goodbye to the kids that always made our Wednesdays. To close, we planned to have a pizza party by heating up the pizzas we made with the kids that we frosted to preserve. It was originally to be eaten on the day it was made, however we ran out of time — so we frosted it to be consumed this week, which is a perfect farewell meal. I mean, who doesn’t like pizza?
To make sure we’ll be on schedule and the pizzas will be ready after the kids come out from gym class, the mentors divided into two groups: one portion will be in the gym with the kids and some of the university mentors, while the remaining other tend to the pizzas. I was more of an all-around mentor during that time, I ran around the gym and did time pizza-watching as well! Haha!
As soon as the kids came back from the gym, the pizza was ravaged, demolished, and abolished. Destructional as it sounds, it was a good thing — they liked their pizza! Good! They made it, and it’s a satisfying thing to know that something one has made tasted good as well.
In an overall perspective of things — Rec and Read made a huge impact on me. Aside of making my leadership skills bloom, I also grew as a person. The things I learned from this program, the friends I have made here, and the time all of us invested in these few months of Rec are memories that I will never forget — which I also hope is the same for the kids who made these memories possible. I seriously cannot wait for next year’s Rec and Read program, in fact — I miss it already.