Today Team Unidog students come together to help beautify the Shaw Community Center in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. Second graders from Ladson Elementary and Ashley River Creative Arts unite in work and play, and inadvertently learn something about themselves in the process.
This community center has been an establishment in Charleston for 29 years. The Shaw Center welcomes anyone in the community to come play basketball, practice boxing, meet for clubs, play music, socialize or just relax in each other’s company. It also has seen some wear and tear over the years.
Unidog students, led by teachers Ms. Mccabe and Ms. Snyder, have already helped the Charleston community before at the animal society and are ready to help downtown.
Why help is needed
Once children arrive at their destination, a volunteer with the City of Charleston shares his experience growing up downtown at the Shaw Center when he was their age. It was a place to congregate, where he learned to box, and a place to spend time with friends. Now he needs the help of these children to beautify it so children and adults can continue to enjoy it.
Next, the kids pick a partner then split up into two groups – fun for one group, work for another (then they’ll rotate). But will one activity actually be more fun than the other?
Group one – dodgeball time!
This classic game is always a good time. Today didn’t disappoint. Parent chaperones and teachers are right there alongside kids laughing, playing, and building team camaraderie.
Group two – get to work
A few complaints emerge from some Unidogs when they realize their peers are playing while they work. Many of us learn from a young age that work is a bad thing, so no wonder we (adults and kids alike) tend to avoid it!
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
Dylan Garvin, recreation specialist with the City of Charleston, explains that benches and picnic tables at the community center are in need of some serious love. The children will be sanding and painting today. Some children aren’t sure if they can actually be of assistance. Nobody has ever asked them to do anything quite like this before, so there’s a little hesitation and uncertainty.
Before we know it, the students are sanding like champs and having a great time as they prep the benches for paint. Smiles are emerging.
Next comes the paint. The kids listen intently as they are shown how to expertly apply paint with precise brush strokes. They shake some giant paint cans and go to town on the benches with their partners. Then an interesting thing happens.
Students notice they’re doing a beautiful job and begin taking pride in their efforts. One child even suggest, “Let’s do a third coat!” A third coat? From children who were apprehensive about work just a short while ago? As these kids notice the transformation of the benches and tables, something inside them begins to transform as well. They realize putting in effort and seeing the visible results is rewarding and actually fun.
We are all capable of doing work to benefit others, and if we give it a shot we might just find we enjoy it.
Thank you team Unidogs for helping the city and teaching by example. May we all learn from today’s events. You’re right my young friend, “Let’s do a third coat!” May we all do a “Third Coat!”
Until next time.