Monday, 15 April 2013

Your Skills Go A Long Way

So why would anyone volunteer? I was never really sure about that until I started; and then I realised how much you can get out of it yourself. That doesn’t sound very philanthropic does it? But I’m not talking about CV building or preparing yourself for the world of work (As the CEO of the Students’ Union, I’m already there!); I’m talking about that slightly cheesy happy feeling of simply doing something that is both good and useful to somebody else. For me, that has been enough, going out and sharing something that I am comfortable with (in my case, using a computer) to people less confident (service users at Age Concern Kingston). So, basically, spending an hour a week of one to one time helping people get online or sharing photos or understanding e-mail so they can talk to their friends and families doesn’t make me Bill Gates, but it can make a world of difference to someone who might be scared of a computer.    

Bradbury Centre - Age Concern Kingston
I am nowhere near a computer expert, I can just about work my way round a pc for work, but the point is; you don’t have to be the worlds’ best at something to help someone with less skills than you; you just have to be enthusiastic and friendly. For an hour a week I am given a chance to meet someone new, share some of their life experiences, have a chat and do something helpful without it feeling a big deal. And it’s always nice to share with people and for that time you spend with someone to be worthwhile and be appreciated.

So, if you think volunteering is a) hard work or b) not something you can do because you don’t have a skill or c) you think you don’t have the time, then I’d say think again. It’s easy to get involved, either on a regular basis or as a one-off and not only is it good on your CV but its’ good for you too in a much more important way – it makes you feel good in yourself, and who doesn’t need that?

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

American Football Fun Session for King Athelstan Primary School

In all my time as a student and player, I have been consistently trying to learn new things and new concepts but this time it was the other way round... I along with a group of students & players just like me, now had to become the teachers which proved much more difficult than first anticipated. King Athelstan Primary School in Kingston was our destination and teaching the basic level of American Football to a mixed group of 10 and 11 year olds was our goal.

We set out nice and early to make sure we arrived on time to set up the various drills and politely introduce ourselves to the supervising staff at the school. When we started, the kids seemed really excited because they had never ever tried American Football. One kid even referred to the sport as “Madden” after the title of the popular American Football video-game series, as he did not realise the sport had an actual name!

Throughout the course of the day we demonstrated and got the kids to participate in a number of important drills & games for developing as a player, drills that we alike execute in training to improve our fundamentals. I think the game they enjoyed the most was British Bulldog, a playground classic but which surprisingly teaches the importance of speed, pursuit (for defensive players) and elusiveness (for offensive players).  I think they enjoyed it because they had played it before and I believe we set it up because of how fun we find it in training too (except we have full pads & a helmet which raise the excitement levels).

We did not face huge challenges during the day; the kids were very well behaved and very quick to respond to opportunities of participation. This made our job as teachers so much more fun & exciting because we had a group of children who were willing to put in the effort to learn something new. I now understand how hard my teachers must have found it in school when I was not co-operative; all those detentions were well served!

My advice to anyone who is considering volunteering is to just “go for it”. It is probably the most rewarding thing I have done throughout my years at university. Teamwork, teaching & leadership are only three out of an exhaustive list of things I have become better at thanks to just volunteering on this project. It was a long day, especially working with young kids with the highest energy levels but all in all, I’d happily do it again if it meant I made a difference in their lives.

Chike Nnalue
Kingston University Student
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