Apr 17, 2015
On April 11, over 160 members of Belmont's neighboring community attended the 15 annual Family Literacy Day held at Rose Park, just down the street from campus. Over 130 Belmont student volunteers went to help make the event a memorable time for the kids. Students' roles included face-painting, crafts, and, the focus of the event, reading with the kids. Reading circles were dispersed around the baseball field, some with themes such as "superheros" or "animals." Kids could pick any reading circle, and could then choose either to read to the students, or be read to. After reading a book, the kids would get a sticker. These stickers could be traded in for treats like cotton candy or popcorn.
Being a part of this event, I saw countless instances of joyful smiles on the faces of the kids as Belmont students invested in their lives, but one instance stuck out to me in particular. During set up, a few kids had arrived early, and were watching at a safe distance as Belmont students used helium tanks to blow up the balloons being used to decorate the field. One brave boy finally approached a student, who proceeded to show him how to blow up the balloon with the helium tank, and then tie it off. The boy was enthralled, and soon his buddies eagerly joined him to get a part in the excitement. They soon took over the balloon blowing up process altogether. Seeing this all unfold, I became aware of how meaningful it is for us Belmont students to give up even a little bit of our time to be a part of the community around us. Those boys were thoroughly tickled to be allowed to help blow up balloons with the "big kids", and in this way the student who engaged with them has made an impact on their lives, even though it may be small.
Belmont students' participation in this event helped represent some of the principles that Belmont stands for and strives to promote, such as collaboration, humility, and servant heartedness. It took a group effort to get everything prepared, a lowering of one's own confidence in their abilities to be able to gently encourage kids in their reading rather than taking over themselves, and a willingness to give up one's own free time to serve the community in this way, but by doing so Belmont students have made a positive impact.