CCCEC is excited to partner with the University of Central Arkansas to host Rebecca Johnson, who is involved with UCA’s AmeriCorps VISTA program. As an AmeriCorps member in the VISTA program, she will support our organization in making sustainable changes in several areas including education and public health. Through this opportunity, Rebecca will gain professional experience to prepare her for a life of service in the public, private, or nonprofit sectors. Rebecca recently visited ACTION Services and Beginnings Preschool for the first time, and she shared her experience in the following blog post.
My name is Rebecca Johnson, I recently graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology and Criminology. For the coming year, I will be the new Americorps VISTA at the Conway County Center for Exceptional Children, which means I’ll be volunteering around several of these sites throughout this year!
This week I took my first look at ACTION Services and Beginnings Preschool. On my first day, I got to visit consumers at ACTION Services and see a little more about what they do every day. I spent time in the shredding workshop while the clients worked. Due to some preconceived ideas about what this type of center would be like, I assumed that clients at an Adult Developmental Day Treatment facility wouldn’t have been as social as they were. I had thought the clients would be more hesitant to engage with someone new, but many were friendly and inviting, including me in their jokes and laughter. Even though the clients were in the shredding workshop simply to work, they were having so much fun. The friendships they had made with each other through the program were obvious.
After finishing up at ACTION Services workshop, I went over to Beginnings Preschool to visit the classrooms to learn about what a day looks like there. In visiting the classrooms, I got to spend time with the little ones there before continuing my self-guided tour through the facility. As I walked past the speech therapy room, the therapist paused her work with an adorable toddler to introduce herself. Then I walked past one of the infant rooms right at nap time where, surprisingly, all the babies were sleeping peacefully. I ended up spending most of my time with the toddlers. Standing along the wall in the classroom, I watched the kids play and talk with their teachers. The kids shyly walked up to me or exchanged glances from their seats, but once they got more used to me being in the room they showed me their cool shoes or silly tricks they could do. They were so excited to interact with me, and I loved getting to play with the children!
Since I haven’t had experience in any type of Early Intervention Day Treatment facility like this, it was fascinating to take a closer look at how this center works to help these children. The interactions the kids have with the teachers are substantial in preparing them for kindergarten, both the children developing typically and the children with developmental needs. The teachers engaged and helped them learn in fun ways. While I was in the classroom, one teacher pointed to shapes and asked the kids which one was which, prompting excited answers and laughter that was wonderful to watch.
I was only there for a little while, but I am excited to learn more about the great ways Beginnings Preschool is guiding these children as well as how ACTION Services supports their consumers. Overall, from my first impressions, I am excited to observe and participate in the ways that the Conway County Center for Exceptional Children strengthens the county’s community by encouraging both children and adults within it to flourish.
To learn more about AmeriCorps VISTA click here.