Student Volunteers Learn Life Lessons at Stepping Stones

Date posted: September 5, 2017

Stepping Stones Summer Camp Volunteer I Cincinnati, Ohio

Casey shares time with Brad Upham, a summer camp volunteer from Indian Hill High School.

As 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 Lessons

The 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.” 

Sharon Draper and student volunteer at Stepping Stones I Cincinnati, Ohio

Author and educator Sharon Draper and student volunteer Lucile Clerc at Volunteer Orientation.

Looking Ahead To Fall

Many 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!

Stepping Stones Student Volunteer Orientation on June 3 I Cincinnati, Ohio

Stepping Stones’ leadership team and staff with more than 70 student volunteers at summer volunteer orientation on June 3.

Front Row: Stepping Stones Director of Programs and Operations Sam Allen, Operations Director Karen Martin, Volunteer Coordinator Sara Eby, Volunteer Coach Ellie Long, Executive Director Chris Adams and Volunteer Coaches Andi Johnston and Charlie Scott.

Student volunteers arrive for summer volunteer orientation at Stepping Stones.

Student volunteers arrive for summer volunteer orientation.

Sharon Draper speaks to student volunteers about serving people with disabilities I Stepping Stones Ohio

Stepping Stones Executive Director Chris Adams and Volunteer Orientation speaker Sharon Draper.


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