By: Lauren Wolters
The University of Findlay’s Student Activities Board (SAB) wrote about 100 letters to children on Absolutely Incredible Kid Day
The University of Findlay’s Student Activities Board (SAB) wrote about 100 letters to children on Absolutely Incredible Kid Day, in the Alumni Memorial Union on March 12.
The Camp Fire partnered event has occurred annually for the past 17 to 18 years. This year the partnership looked a little different. Camp Fire is a national program that promotes the education and inclusion for children of all backgrounds.
“We’re still working with Campfire U.S.A [now called Camp Fire] because it’s their national and international program that they host every year, so all of the letters that we’re collecting we will keep count of those and let them know that those were sent to children on behalf of them,” Sharinda Welton, the Director of Student Activities said. “They usually have clubhouses with children in them but because of COVID they don’t have their meetings, so we coordinated with the University of Findlay’s Clubhouse.”
According to its website, UF’s Clubhouse, located in the College of Education, offers free reading tutoring to the children in Hancock County.
Morgan Kuhlman, an early childhood education major and chair of Absolutely Incredible Kid Day this year, contacted Dr. Allison Baer, a Professor of Education and the Director of The Clubhouse Reading Center. Dr. Baer gave Kuhlman and the SAB a list of children involved in the program and a list of children from a UF partnership school, Jacobs Elementary School.
“Normally we would have anywhere from 100 to 125 children coming over to the College of Education every week for free reading tutoring,” Dr. Baer said.
However, The Clubhouse is running all its programs online this year, so there are only about fifty children in the reading programs. Between the Clubhouse and Jacobs Elementary, the SAB had around 100 children to write to this year. Usually, the UF community writes around 600 letters to the Campfire U.S.A children who have little to no support at home.
The teachers at Jacobs Elementary School gave Dr. Baer and the SAB three binders full of sheets about the third graders. The children answered questions like their favorite color and what they want to be when they grow up. UF staff and students used this information to personalize the letters they wrote to the kids.
“I love the collaboration,” Welton said. “I think it’s really exciting, so I know that it would be supported in the administration side of it if student activities board would continue to want to implement working with the Clubhouse.”
In addition to the children’s names in the binder, the SAB encourages students and staff to write to children in their own lives. Personalized letters often have a huge impact on the children.
“I know that writing letters to kids is really meaningful because last semester when I was a tutor as well, I wrote Halloween cards to them,” Kuhlman said. “And I had so many parents reach out and say thank you because their kids don’t get that source of encouragement from older kids that they look up to.”
“So many times, we take for granted that they’re [children are] happy,” Welton said. “That things are going great in their lives, but I remember myself as a little. I mean like five six years old coming to a campus to do a workshop and getting to interact with the students that were college students at the time, and they helped me decide what I wanted to do when I grew up, and they had no idea. . .they hugged me, and they cared about me. So, when I watch students write these letters, I truly believe that when a child opens them, they feel that hug. They feel that connection to somebody beyond a mom, a dad, and so I think that’s really really cool.”
Welton shared a story about a UF student who wrote a letter to her son with autism, thinking that the letter would not mean much to him. However, she put the letter under his pillow one night, and he loved it. Her son carried the letter in his jean pocket every day and called it his hug from his mom. The student came back every year to write her son a new letter.
So, [we] not only had a touch point for the child, but we had a touch point for that parent that had we not had this event she would never have gotten that connection to her son in such a special, simple way,” Welton said. “So that’s what I love about this project. It’s simple, but it has a lasting positive impact on both the person writing as well as the person receiving.”