Volunteers and Refugees ‘Get in Gear’

Submitted by Sentari Minor

“Get in Gear”, a WTAP partnership with HandsOn Greater Phoenix was a rousing success this year. As part of a series of programming to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the tragedies that occurred on September 11th, “Get in Gear” partnered community volunteers with refugee families. Held at LifeBridge Community Alliance, refugees, volunteers and WTAP staff were all able to partake in an exciting event that connected diverse cultures and multiple generations.

Starting with a piece to memorialize and remember September 11th, volunteers shared stories of how they felt that day and how their lives were subsequently affected. We brought in the story of how WTAP was founded and how out of the tragedies of September 11th came an amazing organization that is still fully devoted to its mission 10 years later.

Excitement began as refugee children arrived and participated in the fun games and crafts. With something for everyone, kids were able to play ring toss, finger paint, make cards for troops serving overseas and get their faces painted. The three-legged race was by far the most popular activity, with children running, falling, and laughing with volunteers and WTAP staff. It was easy to see that everyone was having a great time and that the refugee children were truly enjoying themselves.

For all parties involved, it was a pleasurable experience that can hopefully be replicated next year. Mixing volunteers (of various ages and backgrounds) with refugee children–a population many had very limited experience–with was perhaps the most rewarding part of the event. With positive feedback from both camps, it seems as though everyone was happy interacting and learning while also having a little fun.

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