So, I work at an after-school program a day or two a week. It keeps me in coffee money and it’s fun. My placement was for the program for kids in grade 3-5, which is definitely the age group I have more experience with, so I was stoked about being placed there when I got hired [the program runs at several different elementary/middle schools, so there were different positions].
In the grade 3-5 group, we basically have snack, play gym games for an hour and a half, some kids go in smaller groups with my coworker and do crafts, leaving my other coworker and I to do gym games. It works well. [Although, why someone decided I was good at doing gym games is a mystery to me. Did somebody tell these people I’m a kinese student or what?] A couple weeks ago, though, I was asked to work the Girls Club.
The Girls Club is an interesting thing, at least in my mind. The only experience I really have with grade 6-8 girls is a) being one and b) youth group [which my main experience in is inclusion, but I mean, I did get to hang out with the grade six girls when we were talking about sex. Meaning, I got to go pull them out of the bathroom when we leaders apparently said sex one too many times]. So, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. I don’t seem to know the dynamics of grade 6-8 girls very well, or respond very well to them [at least not the first time].
Two weeks ago I was asked to work the Girls Club. Sure, they need me, whatever. Okay, It went down way differently than I expected. However, we had volunteers then. Said volunteers attempted to run the program. I mean, kudos on them, but that’s what we paid facilitators are for, that’s why we have planning e-mails and why I get there early. I mean, I’ve done volunteer stuff before, and volunteering is cool and sucky in the way that you basically are a robot waiting for and completing instruction, and not going outside of your box.
So, the volunteers were taking over, I had no idea what was going on, and it was just pure chaos. I honestly thought that was just the dynamic of the Girls Club, and was like “Whatever, they’re all hormonal and whatnot, that’s probably just how they are.”
I worked Girls Club again today. I honestly thought it went much better [no volunteers anymore, and four paid facilitators], even though my coworker who basically runs the show primarily thought it was rough [I think she was just stressed after a long day]. Unfortunately, the library got snatched outta our hands so we ended up in the gym and just played gym games when were supposed to be discussing human rights [which is half of why I was there, that’s kinda my thing].
Which was chaotic. I mean, I totally get that some of the girls didn’t wanna play dodgeball. I mean, I wasn’t playing either even though the other three facilitators were. But they were totally not getting that if they were not going to participate, they were going to sit quietly on the bleachers and talk quietly? Finally I gave up and Bethany dragged them off the bleachers and made them play.
The other thing is, we get kids there who are hurt, or sick, or don’t have proper running shoes, or have lost a shoe [yes, true story yesterday, one of our kids lost one of his shoes. His mom was not impressed. I mean, the lead facilitator even went out and tried to find it with him, and they had no luck. And I was the one who got to talk to his mom about the missing shoe. Yep.].
The thing is, the program is optional. It is free, it’s a government-sponsored school-division run program. We’re there to help keep these kids off the streets between 3:30 and 5 because apparently according to my sociology prof, this is when kids are doing things like stealing things and having sex and vandalizing stuff, in their little hour and a half opportunity when their parents aren’t home. But yeah, anyways, nobody has to be there, they are there because they want to be there.
Which is why it’s crazy frustrating when they don’t participate. Yes, it’s a place to hang out with their friends and be safe. Yes, it’s a place to have fun. But you don’t have to go there to talk with your friends or have fun. If you don’t participate once in awhile, hey, that’s cool. Not everybody likes everything. But if it’s game after game after game that you’re sitting out, then why are you even coming? It’s not like our snacks are that great or that we do anything super-cool [usually].
I mean, I can’t even find a parachute in the equipment room. Not even after two weeks when we found the light switch to the equipment room.
I’m totally not ragging on the program. For most of these kids, they come, they have a blast, and they get excited when they see you in the hall on the day their program isn’t run and ask if they can come. But the participation factor is something we really need to work on with them.
On another note about grade six to eight girls, I’m off to our Youth Retreat this weekend. I get to hang out with the seventh grade girls and Elisa and Brenda, and I’m sort-of doing inclusion, but not as one-on-one as I do most Fridays. But semi-one-on-one. Sweet.
The craziest thing about this one-on-one thing is, last summer when I was looking for jobs, I wasn’t applying for inclusion positions. Because I didn’t think it’d be something I’d be good at, didn’t think I was capable of it. So, like I mentioned before, when Ramona asked me to do it, I was like “God, You better know what You are doing here”. Of course He knows what He’s doing. I just gotta make myself remember that again, and I ave huge hopes that we have a blast this weekend living the revolution at the retreat! It should be epic.