Innovation, Creation, and Just Plain Giving Back

If any of my readers didn’t know, I’m a high school student, and over the past month I planned this really cool project that was just basically 100% giving back to the community, at least, that’s what I thought I was doing.

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@projectdayplay was a twitter account we used to update with all our progress on our project, and I think everyone had a good time participating etc, but I think I’d like to get into what we actually did.

Project Play Day was an idea to give back to the community through, well, play. In the past, I had worked with a company, FOOTPRINTS, which was a behavioral interventions company, basically they work with special needs kids to try and help them with basic functions, from potty training, to speaking, to reading, etc. I used to volunteer about once a month to do these play dates with footprints, where all these kids would come to a predesignated area, there would be tons of activities and volunteers and we would play with the kids, and just have fun, and honestly it was always such a blast. And so, I wanted to recreate something like that for our project, to help raise awareness for autism and such.

So what we did, we got in contact with people at FOOTPRINTS, and we asked about planning our own play date, and luckily they were more than happy to help! So me and my project partners, Ivy and Kaitlyn, we went along and started planning things out. We met every weekend at my house for about a month planning things out, luckily we never got too off track.


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We did just about everything from calling different companies to see who could and would donate to us (in the end it was too much of a hassle to talk to people and our calls kept dropping, so we ended up buying supplied ourselves) to calling different locations to see who could and would contribute to our project. We had lots of difficulties with working together, as the three of us seemed to butt heads ever once in awhile with conflicting interests and ideas, plus we had some trouble deciding on location, initially we wanted to go with a beach setting, but we were informed that would not be a good idea, for the kids could possibly go into the water and drown, and there was the stress of finding volunteers, and the idea that maybe we wouldn’t have enough.

But of course, in the end we got our acts together and found ourselves a nice little park to set our scene, and we picked May 31st, Sunday Morning, for our date.

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As the date grew nearer we split up and went out to buy a bunch of supplies-tons of toys and fun that we thought the kids would love, Crayons, Paints, Coloring Books, Chalk, Jump Ropes, Bubbles, Frisbees, and even a few Bouncing Balls. Honestly, we bought a ton of stuff, we were mega excited.

When the actual day came around we got more volunteers than we ever would have expected! Around, maybe 20 students showed up, there and ready to play!

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It was wonderful because everyone showed up like a half an hour early to help set up and most of our volunteers stayed behind to help clean up too, and I just thought that was really rad of everyone.

And so, on the big day we waited for people to show up, but by 11 o’clock it seemed like we weren’t even going to have a single kid! I talked with our representative from FOOTPRINTS, and it turned out, another nonprofit was having a big event on the same day as ours, so majority of families were going to be going to that event, instead of ours. We weren’t expecting a big turn out, but we made do with what we had.

Not only that, the address that was sent out to the parents was wrong, so when we got to the park, we had to fix it by sending out a different address, etc, a lot of parents got lost and it wasn’t until maybe 11:30 to 12ish when people really started showing up to play.

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Even though it wasn’t as huge of a turnout as we were expecting (we were expecting around maybe 30-40 kids, and we got like maybe 10 at most) everyone still had a blast, and I’d still say our play date was a huge success.

I thought what was really great about it was, that we got so many students involved and educated about Autism and other disorders, how to play with kids with such disorders, and how to handle them when they cry etc. Many students even came back to me and said they’d love to do this program again, and that the next time FOOTPRINTS was having a play date event, that I should let them know and they’d definitely consider coming again.

I never really knew all that went into putting on one of these play dates, especially since me and my project partners were extremely inexperienced. We had many complications along the way, and there were times where we got stressed out about our project, and times where I just wanted to plain give up, but I think that int he end it was all worth it, because all the kids had so much fun, and it really was just a fun day at the park.

I think that was one of the best parts of this project, the fact that we got so many people involved, even though there weren’t as many kids as we would have hoped, I still consider this a huge success.

I got many potential volunteers for FOOTPRINTS events in the future, the kids and teens had a great time, and honestly, I hope to continue doing more events like this as time goes on.

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