When Dhru Patel gets a day off from school, he wants to build a tower out of blocks and make new friends, not “play boring games on his Nintendo DS.”
Attending Fun Day at Legion Recreation Center on Friday made it possible for the 6-year-old to spend the day exactly how he envisioned it. The group played basketball and kickball, made bracelets and faced off against one another in games like Jenga and Connect Four. Patel made friends with 9-year-old Alasia Smith, who seemed pretty happy about not having to be at school.
“Home is boring and here is much more fun,” she said with a big, bright smile.
When children are out of school on a normal workday, Program Coordinator Leah Smith tries to plan something for them to do at Legion, especially since parents can’t always be home. Although Friday’s numbers were a bit down in comparison to other Fun Days, there was still lots of laughter going on.
“I don’t care if we have one kid, we still have to find something to keep them busy and let them have fun,” Smith said.
Seeing Patel form a new friendship with Alasia Smith, as well as brothers Logan and Quincy Isom, is an experience Smith treasures.
“I enjoy being with the kids,” she said. “I do get headaches and gray hair, but I enjoy being with them. What I get out of it is getting to meet different kids from different backgrounds, so I’m learning as they’re learning and I think that’s a good experience for both of us.”
With about two and half days of free time ahead of her, Alasia Smith wanted to do something big, like go to the beach.
“I don’t know if I’m going, but I would like to,” she said with a giggle.
It’s those moments of silliness that make the task of watching children a little less stressful. Plus, Smith knows that the short five minutes they spend loosening wooden blocks from a tower or tieing a knot in a bracelet is teaching them something that will last longer than Fun Day.
“It’s all about the interaction and that they can be friends and have fun no matter what color they are,” she said. “I’m teaching them to help each other.”