About once a week, each member of Corner House, a program house at The College of Wooster, travels to volunteer at the nearby Cornerstone Elementary School. Comprised of 16 students ranging in age from sophomores to seniors, with five being abroad each semester, the students who live in Corner House look forward to the time they are able to spend with the children, creating bonds and memories that last from week to week.
One of the four public elementary schools in the Wooster City School District, Cornerstone Elementary is located just a short walk from campus. At the elementary school, the members of Corner House play with the kids during recess as a way of fostering a supportive and nurturing environment, as well as forming a connection between the College and the greater community of Wooster.
The program was founded due to the construction of the brand new PlayLab at Cornerstone, which is a playground that is as academically enriching as it is fun for the children who use it. The PlayLab is meant to encourage an environment of learning, sharing and inclusivity, and the elements within the site do just that.
For example, the PlayLab includes a “Buddy Bench” where the children can go if they want someone to include them in an activity, as well as a butterfly garden to observe different types of rocks and insects. For those who aren’t feeling as active, the PlayLab has an outdoor book depository, where the student members of Corner House can often be found reading to the children.
Margy Adams ’19, a member of the house and volunteer program, emphasized the significance of college-age students volunteering at the school every week.
“We don’t just watch the kids, but play with them as well; we’re in that comfortable spot where we’re not teachers but not other children, so they look up to us while also having fun and looking forward to seeing us. And a lot of them confide in us too; we’re like older siblings,” said Adams.
In addition to the volunteer program being beneficial to the children, it has an impact on the student volunteers, as well. As Adams explains, “We look forward to seeing these kids every week. It’s really refreshing to be around young energy, especially when [we’re] suffocating in schoolwork most of the time.” Because the students volunteer on a weekly basis, they can continue to regularly build upon their relationships with the children, something that both sides find to be valuable.
The purpose of the Corner House volunteer program is to spread messages of sharing and inclusivity at the new PlayLab at Cornerstone. As Adams shares, “it’s really heartwarming to know that we’ve had an impact on these kids’ lives — when we see someone help someone else up after they’ve fallen, or offer to include someone looking for a playmate in a game they’re playing.”