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Riverside Children's Center This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Riverside Children's Center

by M. C., Newton, MA

It started as my mother's idea that I should get involved in some community service after school or on the weekends. I have to admit that I was having some second thoughts when she first mentioned it, but I'm glad that I followed through and stuck with it.

My friend Anna and I talked it over and decided that we felt most comfortable working with children. We found a daycare center in our neighborhood called, "The Riverside Children's Center" and arranged to help out on Wednesdays after school from 3: 00 to 5: 30. I had no idea what to expect, how many kids there were, what age they were or what I would be expected to do.

On our first day we were greeted by ten adorable two-year-olds who we would help take care of. Their room was brightly decorated with a rainbow painted on the wall and fully equipped with toys. The children all seemed very comfortable with me, and I was never treated as a stranger. I had a lot of fun playing and reading to them. It made me feel good that there were many things they could learn from me, and it really made me happy to know that I was impacting on their lives.

The children went through a routine of having snack, playing, going to music class, going outside to the playground and sometimes doing a special activity. The kids were always busy, but I think that my favorite part of the day was music. The kids sang and did hand motions to classic children's songs. They learned little dances and they each got a chance to use an instrument. I liked music the most because I could see how much progress each child was making. One child named Olivia left an impression in my mind, because I could see her opening up from being shy to dancing and singing with the rest of the kids. Her vocabulary expanded greatly, and her skills broadened. She also became closer to the other kids, and it really touched me to think how much she grew.

I would love to continue this great experience this year. I became really attached to all the children, and when Anna and I left for the summer, they threw us a party where they gave us t-shirts with the Riverside Children's Center logo, and the kids made us cards. I took lots of pictures, and I sent them copies with letters from camp. They each will hold a place in my heart forever.

I think community service is important at any age. Even though I'm only 13 years old, my experience has shown me that kids can make a difference if they try. Volunteering has taught me about my own capabilities, and I learned a lot about the world too. Giving back to your community should start early. Children should learn the things that they can do to help make a difference in our world today.

Looking back at the days that I spent there, and looking forward to the days to come, I'll always remember the smiles of those ten children I grew so close to. I only hope I influenced or taught them something that they will remember forever. Even though I only spent 2 1/2 hours a week helping out, you know what they say, "It's not how much time you spend, but how you spend it."


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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