We are recruiting volunteers for Little Star’s Son-rise Program (SRP). I have 3 volunteers at the moment, but people move around alot, some are leaving the country *SOB* so it is good to have more. This is the wonderful thing about SRP that I would never have thought possible — and it certainly is not imaginable for other programs. SRP encourages us to actively recruit volunteers to help out with our child’s play therapy.
There are many benefits to having volunteers — the most obvious reason — freeing up time for you to do your own stuff is only a very small part of it. Because volunteers ARE NOT babysitters. They are valuable and precious members of your child’s team (Yeah, Team Star!) Not only are they committed to play with your child and love him/her, but you are also committed to your volunteers, to teach them to be amazing playmates for your kid.
Children on the autism spectrum have difficulties with social interaction and are often said to be “in their own world”. What many do not realise is the retreat into “their own world” is often a coping mechanism. A means to deal with situations, environments that have too many variables and therefore unpredictable, overwhelming, too stimulating and beyond the child’s control.
People are one such variable. Our actions, responses, facial expressions,expectations etc. are so varied and unpredictable to a child with ASD. Having different volunteers to play with every week helps the child tremendously in being comfortable with people, and gives him/her confidence to interact with them.
Little Star is a very affectionate, playful and loving child. However, you will not know this unless you truly take the time to get to know her. With people she is not close with, she will come off as unfriendly and it would seem like she is ignoring you. Little Star’s trust is hard won by. She is too used to people overlooking her, underestimating her or demanding too much of her, I think, so she prefers to ignore them. But once you win her trust and connect with her meaningfully, then you will see the true Star 🙂
I see this when we hang out with friends, and one of them (who also volunteers for Little Star) explains how she is like to the others. It is touching to hear someone else gets how special and joyful she is, and not talk of her in terms of “I got her to do this” but in terms of who Little Star is as a person. And having one more person on Team Star, playing with her, understanding, accepting, loving, encouraging and empowering her is so…. amazing beyond words.
So yes… we are recruiting. Any one who is accepting, non-judgemental, open-minded, and caring can absolutely volunteer! At the moment we limit it to friends, family or friends of friends. Basically people that can be vouched for. To be a Son-rise Program Volunteer is to be a reliable playmate of Little Star. You will be prepared to let go of some beliefs about how children should or should not behave (that is why the non-judgemental element is very important). Ideally, you can set aside 1-2 sessions of playtime a week, for a period of 3-6 months. Each session will be no more than 2 hours.
We are generally pretty flexible with volunteers. I find that if we are lucky enough to get someone who grasps and practices the Son-rise principles intuitively, they can play sporadically with Little Star and still do amazing things.
This is a soft drive. I will post up a poster with more succinct information on my personal Facebook page.
If you would love to be a PLAY VOLUNTEER, do email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!