Increasing student volunteers and creating civic awareness was one of the objectives Joyce Cooper, from Parkview High School had when submitting her grant, Parkview Cares: Community Service All Around the Town!
The objective goes hand in hand with the purpose of Parkview Cares. Parkview Cares is a school wide endeavor to teach students many components including future education, careers, and being involved in the community. “We use several buses to take our students everywhere. Our sophomores spend half the day volunteering and our juniors spend either all day volunteering or half the day volunteering and half the day touring a college in Springfield. The focus is 100% experiential and the goal is for them to find out how much fun it can be to serve others and give back.”
This grant was a continuation of previous projects and it has had a 95% positive impact on students. Joyce shares a story about a student who was pleasantly surprised by the experience. “Every year we have a few students who think staying at Parkview and doing the paper assignments will be better than going. Then we call parents and get permission for them to go. One of my favorite examples was a student who really did not want to go. He picked Sunshine elementary and by chance, ended up working in his cousin’s classroom. His cousin took him around showing him off to all his friends and was so excited that he was there! The second half of the day he had lunch at the senior center where they visited and played games with retired seniors. He loved the stories they told and had such a good day! Every year we have many students who say the same thing. That it was so much fun and why don’t we do it more than once a year. It’s great to see students learn that serving others is fun and enjoyable!”
When asked specifically how the support from the Foundation for SPS has impacted her students Joyce said, “Being a counselor, I don’t have a classroom. However, Parkview Cares requires all the teachers to participate so that we have enough supervision. Teachers report that the couple weeks after Parkview Cares, students cooperate with each other better and are more willing to help each other. The teachers are able to have conversations about the needs of others, and students are more patient with one another, thus increasing learning.”
“Without the Foundation’s grant this event would not be possible. Many of our students have never volunteered anywhere in the community before. They learn it is fun and easy to do. On the other side of the equation, we give back over 3,000 hours of service to various agencies in one day. Students get to be part of something huge! I would say to anyone thinking of donating to the Foundation that the money will be put to use where it can positively impact lives. The Foundation has the ability to give students opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise.”