Learn about the Racing Readers program, and discover how you can "engage the world" as a volunteer.
“Engage the World.”
This is the SFU tag line. As a first year student who was incredibly worried about what was to become of my university experience, the phrase resonated with me. All I knew was that I wanted to change the world, somehow. At the same time, I was in my first year and I didn’t know very many people at SFU. I was shy, unsure of my capabilities, and quite frankly, had no idea where to begin.
Enter Trisha Dulku, one of the coordinators for Racing Readers. She too wanted to engage the world, and she shared the Racing Readers project with myself and many other first years. I felt excited and intrigued. Everything Trisha had talked about sounded awesome: reading and doing physical activities with kids and meeting new people.
I Was Ready to Engage the World.
Looking back on the past eight months, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience than Racing Readers. The benefits that came out of the program are many for all that took part, both participants and volunteers alike. As a volunteer, I co-led a group of students from grades 3-5 in various physical and literacy activities. I worked with an incredible group of volunteers who made each session enjoyable and easy. My Wednesdays became more than just hump day: it was Racing Readers day! Of course, the most rewarding part of the whole experience was definitely working with the kids. The kids always had bright, smiling faces with tons of energy to get me moving as well. Seeing the progress of the students from week to week always brought me a feeling of happiness, from reading more fluently to running more laps than the week before.
Before long, Racing Readers grew to be more than just an after-school program. The staff at Newton Elementary School in Surrey helped us out significantly by giving us a venue for the program. In particular, staff member Kristine Michaud was always there to give us a helping hand, extra support and words of encouragement. The program quickly grew with more and more students wanting to participate. The biggest surprise that came about during our time in the program was the two month extension that we received! Our program, which originally was supposed to end in April, got extended to June. This gave us more time to spend with the students as well as push them to achieve even more in terms of literacy or physical activity. By the end of it, we were able to establish a community.
My time with Racing Readers helped me to become a more engaged person. By choosing to engage in Racing Readers, my confidence has increased and my leadership skills have grown. My communication and problem solving skills have been sharpened and I have learned the value of team work. This program paved the way for positive, growing relationships with not just Newton Elementary but hopefully many other elementary schools in the Surrey School District. Being able to engage the local community with other members of the SFU community has enabled me to meet other like-minded students and create lasting friendships with many.
I encourage every student at SFU to join Racing Readers in the upcoming year. The program needs students who love to have fun, love working with kids and want to engage their community. So there you have it – if you want to engage the world and are not sure how, engaging your community is a step in the right direction. Racing Readers wants you!