Today was my second day at Hollybank Trust which is a school and home for people of all ages with physical and mental disabilities. The group was split in half today: Kristi and I stayed at Hollybank while Jaclyn and Lyndsey went sailing with the students.
My day started off with the school aged kids (6-16 years old) in Class 2. I walked into their morning routine of saying “Good morning” to each other. Then, the students would respond by using a programmed switch to tell everyone how they were feeling. They all said, “I feel good” with a little help from James Brown. Then the teacher sprayed the scent of the day on the kids’ hands so they would be able to tell that it was Wednesday. I thought that this was a really good idea that I had never heard of before. With this technique, the students who do not have the mental capability to understand the word Wednesday would be able to know what day of the week it was just based on the smell of the perfume.
However, today was not an ordinary day at Hollybank, today was the Holiolympics. Each class was designated a country and was encouraged to dress up in costumes. Class 2 represented Greece and Egypt. All of the students came together in the gym with their costumes on to celebrate the Olympic Games in their own special way. In the morning we came together to watch a local elementary school sing to the students. The group of year 4s sang three songs, one which included a sign language interpretation -that everyone LOVED! At the end, we also sang some songs that the Hollybank students were able to join in with too.
In the afternoon the games began. We first started with a unity circle dance that everyone was able to participate in. Following the dance, we paraded around the memorial garden. It was nice to finally be able to go outside without an umbrella and rain coat on. After the parade, we went into different classrooms with the students and tried to score as many points as possible. The games included the shot put, the duck scoop, horseshoes, the javelin throw, and basketball. Once everyone finished, the medals were given out to all of the students based on their class’s average total points, and individual performance. Unfortunately Class 2 came in 4th place out of four classrooms, but I think we had the most fun!
I’m sad to see that my time at Hollybank is going to be over tomorrow. I honesty wish I had more time to get to know these amazing students and for them to be able to get to know and trust me more as well. When they finally realize that you are there to be their friend and they start to interact with you, your whole body fills with joy. Just to have a student reach out to touch your hand, or look you in the eyes and then smile is breath taking.
Although I had an amazing fun filled day at Hollybank, my day did not end there. My group reconnected and went to an Asian temple to watch “Punjabi’s Got Talent.” We were invited to this event by Inder, the camp coordinator from last week’s Larkia Camp. This event brought many children from the Punjabi School together to showcase their different talents. The performances ranged from singing songs and playing instruments, to rapping and acting. It was so amazing to see young people have such confidence in front of a large audience. Two of the young musicians are even playing for THE QUEEN tomorrow! I guess my group is on a level just above the Queen because we got a sneak preview. Needless to say, today was somewhat saddening because we knew that this would most likely be the last time we would get to see our friends from the Larkia Camp for a while. We have made such good friendships; I can only hope that they will last with the distance between our countries. I guess that’s what Facebook’s for!