It’s check-in Tuesday! Today, we’re heading to Morristown, NJ, where Kirstyn and Hudson Bonetti look back on their first-ever session as Program Directors!
“I didn’t think it was going to feel like a community that quickly,” the mom of two joyfully shares. “I felt like I got to know the parents right away.” She continues by explaining that the session went great, but she also mentions that a lot of effort went into preparing for the launch.
“We found that being organized was key,” she laughs. “We created our own curriculum guide, spent a lot of time looking over the participant cards so they would be paired with the right volunteer, and we went through videos online and the visual aids. We also spent a lot of time writing play by play what we were going to do, gave all the volunteers roles before the participants got there, and did a lot of training to get the volunteers familiar with the curriculum to empower them.”
But all the hard work paid off as they saw a lot of improvements from the athletes and volunteers. “After the first week, a little boy (seven or nine years old) had his mom’s arm so sore because he had her play every single day,” she giggled. “Another boy took his brother and dad outside of their house because he wanted to build a court in their backyard, but they ended up going to the park and play. We also saw an athlete go from not being able to throw or catch a ball, to throwing and catching it five to seven times. Lastly, we saw some players hit forehands and backhands, while others became more social by flipping the schedule or giving ideas on which group warm ups to do and demonstrating it.” On top of seeing positive developments with the participants, Kirstyn also observed growth with the volunteers as they became more comfortable.
Her son Hudson on his end, loved seeing some of the athletes’ unique abilities. “It was amazing to see the cool things that they can do and to be able to talk to them about that stuff,” he commented. “As a Program Director, I was able to interact with both participants and volunteers which I really enjoyed. I talked to the volunteers and helped them as needed.” Hudson truly enjoyed his experience as he took on a bigger role in the organization after being a volunteer at the South Orange program. “It’s been a very positive experience! I’ve worked on my leadership skills like speaking louder and I also ended up running the program on my own for the first time on June 2. I rehearsed it a lot before,” he laughed. “Overall, it was great to see how they are all different in their own way, some like football, some basketball, and some are great at music.”
Thank you very much to Kirstyn and Hudson for your dedication to making this experience as positive as possible for the families and volunteers! They don’t have dates yet for their next session but they’re excited to build on this and come back soon!