“How do you spell love?” asked Piglet. “You don’t spell it,” said Pooh. “You feel it.” When I was asked to write an article about the SNAP (Special Needs Athletic Partnership) Summer Program, I wasn’t sure where to begin. It has been such an honor to work as a mentor this year assisting a child with special needs.
The Summer Program is for students with disabilities from ages three to 22, and it takes place at the South Shore Country Club. Although this was my first year working as a mentor at the Summer Program, I have been a volunteer for SNAP activities since my freshman year. When it comes down to it, everyone puts so much love into the program and creates a very special feeling that’s hard to exactly put into words!
“Friendship is a very comforting thing to have” - Christopher Robin.
Nothing could possibly compare to the friendships made at SNAP. At the Summer Program, you are not just a mentor - you are a friend. Whether it’s helping kids through tough days or having a blast on the most fun days, we’re always there for everyone. I remember one day when we went to the Rec Center for “Inflatable Day” and it was pouring rain. One child chose me to go down the waterslide, so of course I had to go! I was completely soaked by the end of the day, but we couldn’t stop laughing the entire time. I know that’s what friends are for!
“It’s good to keep your friends within hugging distance” - Winnie the Pooh.
Quite simply, I think a favorite memory of the mentors will be of a child who hugged everyone every day. He is so friendly and never fails to make us all happy. By just being himself, he reminds us to keep things in perspective and to find joy in little moments.
“It never hurts to keep looking for sunshine” - Eeyore.
Although we had so many fun-filled days, we certainly had our challenging ones, too. I learned that the important thing is to never stop looking for something positive to come out of every day. One day a child wasn’t feeling like himself and didn’t want to participate in the Summer Program that day. We kept encouraging him, and by the end of the day, I think he had more fun than everyone there!
“Rivers know this: there is no hurry, we shall get there some day” - Winnie the Pooh.
At the SNAP Summer Program, it’s never about what’s next. It’s about enjoying every moment, but I’ve learned it’s also about patience. A lot of the kids love art, and they sometimes have a picture in their head about how exactly every drawing is supposed to look, down to the smallest details. There’s one cartoon I drew over and over for one child until it was absolutely perfect for him. Just seeing the smile on his face when I was finished made it all worthwhile, and being able to make him happy made me happy.
“Sometimes the littlest things take up the most room in your heart” - Winnie the Pooh.
When I started volunteering as a mentor, I never imagined how much the kids would teach me. I think the most important thing I came to understand through SNAP is just appreciating everything, no matter how small. A lot of kids have very specific interests, such as puppets, birthdays, the color blue, and maps just to name a few. Taking the time to learn about the things they find important means so much to them. A little effort goes such a long way, and they are so happy knowing how much you care.
“We’ll be friends forever, won’t we Pooh?” asked Piglet. “Even longer,” Pooh answered.
I never really realized until now just how much I’m going to miss SNAP and all the incredible friendships I’ve made. I’m so grateful to have had the chance to meet some of the nicest people I’ve ever known and to form so many unforgettable memories. Even though I’m heading off to college, SNAP will always hold such a special place in my heart. Being a mentor has been such a rewarding experience, and the friendships I have made will stay with me forever. Looking back, and looking forward, “If ever there is a tomorrow when we’re not together… There is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.” Like Winnie the Pooh, I am so lucky to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.
For more information about SNAP’s programs, to subscribe to its email list, or to donate, please go to www.southshoresnap.com.
Casey Cavanaugh is a 2017 graduate of Hingham High School. While at HHS, she was involved with Student Council, played soccer, basketball, was named to The Patriot Ledger All-Scholastic girls track team for spring 2017, and was an officer of Best Buddies. An honor-roll student while in high school, Casey is now a freshman at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. Casey has been a mentor for SNAP baseball, soccer, and bowling. This past summer, she was a mentor for the five-week Summer Program held at South Shore Country Club. Casey was also the first recipient of the SNAP mentor scholarship award, which was presented to her this past June.