“Fun Friday” connects students with their community

University of Miami students volunteer at the South Miami Community Center for "Fun Friday" as part of the Butler Center for Service and Leadership's Lead and Serve Week. Bolton Lancaster // The Miami Hurricane

On most weekdays, 7-year-old Jada Forbes can be found in the gymnasium of the South Miami Community Center jumping rope and racing around the basketball court with other children her age. But last Friday, she was joined by a couple of new friends to play with.

As part of  the Butler Center’s Lead and Serve Week, the resident assistants of Stanford Residential College planned a “Fun Friday” event where volunteering students were shuttled over from campus a few blocks to the community center, which serves as a place for  children to go after school and participate in different recreational activities from working in the computer lab to spending time outside. The kids at the community center said that they have more fun when the older people come to visit them.

“I like to play red light and green light, and tag,” Jada said over the background noise of dribbling basketballs and shouts of delight as the children played with UM students in the community center gymnasium.

The RAs in Stanford knew that they wanted to plan something for Lead and Serve Week, held every September to encourage students to volunteer and educate them on how to be leaders. The South Miami Community Center provided them with the perfect opportunity for both.

“We’ve worked with South Miami before and whenever we come to South Miami it’s always a good turnout, so it’s a good community service project,” said Adekemi Akinwole, a junior who is an RA in Stanford.

The six RAs who attended the event helped plan different activities for the children at the community center, such as sculpting clay and playing field games. They split up the volunteering students so that there could be at least a couple students at each event.

At the beginning of the day, the 12 volunteers waited for the children in the arts and crafts room. The room was buzzing with excitement and anticipation as the volunteers looked forward to a day full of coloring, basketball and, most importantly, interacting with the children.

“It’s always really fun, sometimes they do some pretty crazy things,” said Jaime Ceron, a freshman in Stanford who saw the event being advertised and decided to participate.

The fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi also had members volunteering at the community center that day, although they did not come with the RAs from Stanford. Colin McDaniels, a senior in the fraternity, said that they emphasize serving the community’s interest and that he enjoys spending his time with the kids.

“They really enjoy having someone a little bit older to play with and give them a little bit of their time,” McDaniels said.

Bolton Lancaster may be contacted at blancaster@themiamihurricane.com.