Johnson cadets bring joy to little hearts
With summer quickly approaching, most high school students are filling their Saturdays with visits to Six Flags Amusement Park or Schlitterbahn, but not the Johnson High School Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) cadets. This year the cadets have gone above and beyond with their service learning! Despite, the school coming to a close soon, the cadets is still going strong with a passion to help the community in any way possible.
The Johnson cadets are not new to service learning. Each year, cadets prepare a volunteering event in class while utilizing leadership skills they have acquired throughout the school year. Through this process, cadets are taught how to refine their socializing skills as well as their leadership skills required to lead a group of individuals who may have different views. This year, the cadets took a different route than the usual animal shelters or park clean-up and renovation project. Instead, two classes joined forces to spend a Saturday dedicated to the kids at St. PJ’s Children Home.
For over 100 years the St.PJ’s Children Home has been offering their services to all sorts of people from children to young adulthood, to help provide them with not only a welcoming place to stay, but an environment that serves to provide healing of body, mind, and spirit. Last weekend, St. PJ’s held a small festival for all its residents and was in need of volunteers to not only run activities, but also have tons of fun with the children and teens. Many of the cadets had never been to a Children’s Home before and were nervous to be volunteering in a foreign environment, but that did not deter them from having one of their best volunteer events.
Upon arriving at the Children’s Home, the cadets met the residents and everyone began bonding. The children were hugging one another reverently and exchanging “I missed you!” as the siblings had not seen each other since the night before.
“The very first encounter we had with the kids was so touching said Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Ellen Pennington. “Apparently, the boys stay in one cottage and the girls in another so, when the children were released to come enjoy the festival, we saw one small body from each mass move wildly and come into the playground clearing for fun and activities” adds Pennington.
The visit was filled with many exciting and wonderful moments as the Cadets helped in a string of activities. Cadets helped push the kids on swings, as many of them were not old enough to push themselves.
“We painted lots of faces and arms! It wasn’t just the children; the cadets also got splattered with paint!” said Cadet Corporal Jennifer Perez.
By the time the festival was over, there were children vampires, lots of skeletons, fairies, and one little boy who had an eye patch of a pirate. However, the most exciting time for the kids had to be the bubbles. They showed the most enthusiasm for that than they did any other activity.
By the time BBQ lunch provided by the cadets rolled around, a lot of the residents were worn out and all of the cadets had learned a lot about their new found little “buddies”.
“A lot of them were really shy, mainly the older kids, but the younger ones were just looking for attention and honestly we enjoyed the interaction with them” said Cadet Major Vincent Padilla.
Overall a great day was had by all. The cadets and the children had a wonderful time and created bonds with one another.
The cadets felt they really made a difference that day and with our devotion to the community, we will be able to move the city forward to a better tomorrow” said Cadet Captain Mirella Torres.
Posted on May 30, 2013