Carnival Day for Elementary School Children: Hayward, Northern California.
The Sathya Sai Young Adults (YAs) of Northern California put together a fun-filled educational Carnival on September 22nd 2018 for the students of Southgate Elementary, a school in an under-served area of the Bay Area. A number of Sai Centers in the region conduct a weekly 2-hour Math Academy (tutoring) sessions for the students. The carnival was a kick-off for the Math Academy for the 2018-2019 academic year.
More than 25 Young Adults participated in planning and coordinating the event. The Carnival began with a session of mindfulness and yoga and personal sharing by children so volunteers could get to know them ahead of the Saturday classes. The YAs also set up a number of booths in the main hall for the children: a Science Booth that had fun hands-on experiments; a Public Speaking booth to boost students’ confidence in public-speaking and creative story-telling; a Coding Booth that introduced them to the world of computer programming through fun games; a Zero Waste booth that taught the impressionable children the importance recycling and “going green” and a Puzzle Booth with a number of brain-stimulating games including Chess, Sudoku and Jenga. Finally, there was a Face-Painting Booth, a definite hit with students who waited in long lines to get their faces adorned with beautiful designs! To top it all off, the day ended with a jam session where the children sang and danced to their favorite songs accompanied by instrumentalists from among the volunteers.
Despite it being a Saturday, none of the kids wanted to leave; they were having so much fun! Some parents joined the children for lunch and stayed till the end to help volunteers clear the place. Teachers received positive feedback from parents requesting the school host more such events. Many parents were happy to see the children learning in such an engaging and fun environment.
One of the Young Adult volunteers commented, “Being a teacher by profession, my interactions with children are often driven by curriculum and timelines. The carnival was a refreshing change to enjoy the company of the children in a relaxed environment. The day was filled with bustling energy from both the young and old, eagerly anticipating, relishing and reveling in their interactions with each other. The time we spent together was filled with love, laughter, and much learning.” A teacher of the school shared, “The event was not only educational in nature but also fun. It helped increase parents’ awareness of the Math Academy and substantially increased its attendance, and the enthusiasm from the children, parents and volunteers at large. The teachers received positive feedback from children across all grades. The school and the entire District administration were so appreciative of the commitment from the Sai volunteers.”
The event was an opportunity for the volunteers to witness the sweet innocence of the children who showed a genuine interest and demonstrated such a thirst to learn more. They warmly welcomed the volunteers into their school and participated freely in all the sessions. A volunteer who conducted the morning yoga and mindfulness session remarked, “I loved working with them; their innocence and joy speaks out in so many ways. I created an imaginative meditation that focused on every child being as important as the bright sun we see every morning. And emphasized that they each had the ability to make the day brighter. I concluded with a gratitude activity, where the children shared in small groups one thing that they were grateful for. We were touched by their lovely comments about their families, their pets and their friends. I could feel the warm love radiate on their faces, the same kind of warmth that just radiates in everyone while working with children. We were all able to connect with them. That’s what is amazing about this universal love.”
The young adults truly enjoyed collaborating together on this event to successfully plan and execute the carnival and put a smile on so many faces that day!