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Counselor Education Faculty and Students Volunteer Their Services to Bellefonte Children’s Celebration

An article about faculty and staff from Counselor Education program volunteering at the Bellefonte Children's Celebration

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – “It just has to feel so great knowing that you made a kid smile today.” Hearing these words from the parent of a young child was especially rewarding for Kristen Gill.

cned_kids_day_sept07.png Gill and seven other graduate students from Penn State’s Counselor Education program joined faculty members JoLynn Carney and Richard Hazler to volunteer at the 2007 “An Old Fashioned Sunday in Bellefonte” celebration, held Sept. 23. “Old Fashioned Sunday” is an annual event, part of the America’s Day for Kids celebration that promotes family interaction and fun.

“I really enjoyed how appreciative the families all seemed to be toward the members of the Penn State counselor education class who were participating,” said Gill.

The Counselor Education program served as one of several sponsors for the event. Hazler and Carney organized various activities and the program’s graduate students staffed the booths. Among the activities were sand art crafts, Play-Doh making, and face painting. Carney and Hazler helped out wherever needed.

“I felt a sense of fulfillment and pride,” said Collette Smith, one of the Counselor Education students. “It was really amazing to watch parents or older guardians help a child out with the activities. There was so much community involvement with the youth and between different organizations.”

Hundreds of children and their parents took part in a wide variety of free activities. And the food prices were reasonable—hamburgers, hot dogs, and ice cream sold for only 25 cents each. About 40 businesses, groups, and organizations planned or participated. The event was organized by the Bellefonte Family Resource Center, a community organization that advocates healthy and positive development of children.

The Penn State Counselor Education program enjoys a strong connection not only with the Old Fashioned Sunday activities, but also with the Center County Communities that Care network, for which Carney and Hazler are board members. The vision of Communities that Care is that there will be places where all children are safe, connected to others, encouraged to learn, explore their world, and be supported by a web of concerned adults. Centre County is a part of this national organization that emphasizes a prevention process in which communities evaluate the risks that affect the healthy development of youth and implement research-based programs to diminish those risks.