William Shakespeare once wrote “what’s in a name?” The name SMILE says it all.
For the fifty-six SMILE program participants and their families, the Cumberland Early Intervention SMILE program brought smiles to the faces of all those who were involved.
“It was an excellent year, our sixteenth year,” said Cumberland Early Intervention Executive Director Erin Perry this past Saturday at the SMILE program’s annual year-end potluck. “We were able to offer lots of great programs for the fifty-six special needs SMILE participants (aged 3-21), two hours once a week, for sixteen weeks, lasting from the end of September through to the middle of March,” she adds.
One of these participants was twenty-one year old Scott Park. Today was his last day as a SMILE program participant, the 2012-2013 SMILE program’s lone graduate.
“It’s been fun,” said Park. “I’m going to miss everything about it.”
The feeling is mutual, according to Park’s one-on-one buddy and SMILE program volunteer Brendan Phillips, a second year biology student at Mount Allison University.
“Everyone is going to miss Scott,’ says Phillips. “My first year at SMILE was easy because he was such a great buddy,” he adds.
Working under Perry were the SMILE program’s three volunteer coordinators: Jefferson Hayes, Emily Hogan and Kathleen Kennedy, a fourth year psychology major who would like to work someday as a school psychologist.
“I am going to miss seeing all of the participants, as well as the feeling that I got from watching the participants grow as individuals,” says Kennedy. “A strong bond was formed between us (SMILE volunteers) and the participants. They helped us grow too.”
Altogether, there were 58 full-time SMILE program volunteer buddies and 30 substitute SMILE volunteers. All 88 SMILE volunteers were Mount Allison University students.
“Each Saturday, Cumberland Early Intervention arranged for the volunteers to be bused from Sackville to Amherst and back,” said Perry.
As for her three SMILE program volunteer coordinators, “You really stepped up this year,” said Perry. “I couldn’t ask for three better coordinators than you.”
Parent Lisa Cuvelier thanked the SMILE program volunteers for their efforts.
Each year, the SMILE program sets a $60,000.00 goal. This year is no different.
“Next Saturday (March 23) is our big fundraiser, the Walk and Run at Mount Allison University,’” said Perry. “Registration ($10.00 per person) begins at 9:00 am at the Student Centre with the run/walk beginning at 10:00 am,” she adds.
For more information about the Walk and Run, please phone 667-8244. In Sackville, you can sign up Jennings Hall and the WMSC. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.