Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Volunteering Episode II: Attack of the Dodgeballs

January 20, 2011 · No Comments

My venture to get to the New Hope Christian Centre is about an hour in length. After riding the bus from campus center to Chapelfield Road at the start of town, I walk up the road past the Sainsbury’s. (As an aside, the Sainsbury’s, located only a minute’s walk from the first bus stop in town, only came to my attention on my first trip to the club. It comes highly recommended for your grocery needs.) I keep walking that road for a good five minutes, then make a right and walk another fifteen-twenty minutes though a neighborhood area of Lakenham. It’s an area of Norwich I never would have visited otherwise, and makes me realize how much more there is to explore in the city area. As this is around 6:00, it is always dark out by the time I begin walking. Most of my trek is fairly well lit, but the last five minutes or so of the walk, after I cross under a bridge, is in what feels like the middle of nowhere. There are a few houses to the left, but no lights ever seem to be on. It’s always very eerie to me, and I find it hard to believe that I’m within walking distance of a decently large city area when I arrive at the Centre. If you want to see the actual details of my journey, you can click on the link here.

I arrived about a half-hour before the kids got there. Duane, the leader, ran some new ideas for games to play by me and one of the other helpers. The game we decided upon involved one kid standing in the middle blind-folded, holding a pillow. The other kids would try and run past him/her without getting hit by the pillow. Last person standing wins. Since it involved hitting and running, it was a huge success. Of course, this was played after everyone’s favorite: dodgeball. Given the  dimensions of the room in which its played, only one ball is used. This makes it fairly easy to track the action and get out of the way, but somehow the game moves quickly and the kids seem to enjoy it. We have played this both weeks I have been back, and it seems to be the new favorite. It will be interesting to see how long they like it…

As I believe I mentioned in my previous blog, another student, Andrew Barron, volunteered at the New Hope Christian Centre last year. Looking back on his posts, it is a little hard to believe this is the same Kid’s Club I attend. Andrew(other Andrew, have not begun speaking in the third person…) talks about dramatically bad behavior problems and little control. While I would not claim things have been perfect, the atmosphere sure seems to be calmer than what he describes. Games have a clear order to them, and the kids generally follow that order. One kid was kicked out this week after a few warnings, but it was for behavior that sounds like the average kid during Andrew’s time at the Centre. There are a couple possible reasons for this. One: The Centre has decided to lower the age allowed at the Club. Two: It is a different group of kids. Three: The Centre now has another year under their belt doing the club. Either way, the evening is much more together than Andrew describes.

After the kids left and we started putting away tables and setting up chairs for the next day, two things were on my mind. One was a regret that we did not do more than play games with the kids. Honestly, given the kids not much else could be done. It’s not like you can sit a ten-year old down and have a conversation about life when there’s the option of dodgeball. However, I still wish we could do a bit more than just play games that I feel they would play anyway. Which brings me to my second thought: why are these kids coming? They enjoy the games, but I can’t help but think they play them elsewhere. We give out a few biscuits in between, but I hardly think that’s THAT much incentive to come. One can certainly delve into ideas about them wanting structure and the like, but I don’t know if that’s it. This is a question I have yet to answer, and hope to come to some conclusions as the semester goes on.

Volunteered on 20/01/2011

From 18:00-20:00

2 Hours: Total of 4 Hours

New Hope Christian Centre

Supervisor: Duane Elkins

Categories: 2010 Andrew
Tagged: , ,

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