Geneva Middle School transformed into a fun house on April 25, complete with music, games, face painting and karaoke. And right in the thick of the excitement were 14 HWS student volunteers, all members of Assistant Professor of Psychology Julie Kingery’s Adolescent Psychology course.
Organized by middle school Spanish teacher and William Smith alumna Emily McCarter ’02, Geneva’s Got Game provides students with an opportunity to interact positively with teachers, staff, parents, community members and peer leaders. The bi-annual event is sponsored by the Olweus Anti-Bullying, Respect and Unity Initiative.
The HWS student volunteers attended the event as part of a service-learning component of Kingery’s Adolescent Psychology course. The assignment encouraged them to explore various career paths in adolescent psychology, giving them a chance to experience “real life” examples of the concepts covered in class.
“The students who attended Geneva’s Got Game had a unique opportunity to step outside of the classroom to learn more about adolescent psychology and also to give back to the Geneva community by making a difference in the lives of the children who attended this event,” explains Kingery.
Abigail Slowik, a senior psychology and women’s studies major, believes that the benefits of participating in a service learning program with adolescents are twofold.
“Opportunities like these have implications beyond what we can possibly anticipate,” she says. “Not only is it an important part of my learning experience, but it becomes a crucial component in the development of the adolescents, particularly those who are having academic or social difficulties.”
McCarter tries to incorporate many similar unity-building events throughout the school year as staff coordinator for the Olweus Initiative at Geneva Middle School.
“We’re trying to foster positive relationships between students, staff, parents and other members of our school community,” McCarter says.
She was especially excited by the turnout for the event, with more than 40 volunteers helping to make the evening a success. “This was the first time HWS students have been included in Geneva’s Got Game, and hopefully it will not be the last time,” she says. “Both the primary and secondary school students benefited greatly from the opportunity to interact with college students in small group settings.”