Student Volunteers Learn Life Lessons at Stepping Stones
Date posted: September 5, 2017As students return to the classroom this fall, many will share memories of vacations and summer leisure activities. Others will relate a life-changing experience of volunteering at Stepping Stones.
From June 5 through August 4, our summer day camps in Indian Hill and Batavia were home to 1,276 volunteers, generating more than 2,862 visits. This sizable team of camp volunteers came from area middle schools and high schools, along with colleges, churches, community groups and local businesses. Their combined efforts resulted in an impressive total of 18,603 volunteer hours.
What’s the Pay Back?For the kids, teens and adults in our summer camp programs, it’s priceless.
“Summer volunteers offer our campers a chance to meet and socialize with someone new – which is a huge step towards building independence and an important part of our mission,” said Stepping Stones’ Volunteer Coordinator Sara Eby. “In the end, though, what is amazing is how our volunteers come in at the start of their experience thinking that they are going to bring positive change – and leave being the ones who are really changed.”
For the volunteers from over 60 high schools and 25 colleges across greater Cincinnati and the country, it was an eye-opening experience. It was also a great lesson to volunteers that the children and adults served by Stepping Stones are much more alike than different from themselves.
Volunteers Learn Life LessonsThe summer volunteer season kicked off with internationally acclaimed author and educator Sharon Draper, who led a presentation at Stepping Stones’ volunteer orientation on June 3. More than 70 middle and high school students listened to Draper’s powerful account of her own experiences raising a child with a disability.
“What you realize when you volunteer is that kids with disabilities are no different than you or me,” shared Draper. “A kid is a kid. And these kids love new faces, new experiences and new friends. In volunteering, you can discover the things that give you joy and offer joy back to the individuals you serve. Volunteers create memories of a lifetime for participants – experiences that will live in their heads forever.”
Draper’s real-life message that a person with a disability is no different than a person without a disability hit home with volunteers during their time at Stepping Stones.
“I didn’t know what to expect at first,” shared Brad Upham, a volunteer from Indian Hill High School, “But it was great to learn that the participants enjoy the same things I do. It was awesome to connect with them in so many ways.”
Looking Ahead To FallMany of the dedicated student volunteers who shared their summer with Stepping Stones will be returning in September – when our fall season of Saturday recreational programs begins.
You can join us, too!
Registration for weekend volunteer opportunities through the school year is now open. As a student volunteer at Stepping Stones, you’ll not only fulfill service hour requirements – but have fun, change your outlook and truly make an impact on others.
To learn more about weekend volunteer opportunities at Stepping Stones and complete an online application – click here!