By Kelly Chen
Valentine’s Day is the day for many people to spend it with their special someone. On February 15, 2013, several AGS members celebrated Valentine’s Day together with many “special someone’s” by volunteering at AbilityFirst. For those who are not familiar with AbilityFirst, it is a non-profit organization that helps those with development disabilities to gain more independence. Every once in a while, AbilityFirst will host these socials for the participants to celebrate special occasions together. This provides an opportunity for the participants to socialize with their peers in a place where they won’t be judged or discriminated.
For this romantic occasion, most AGS members acted as stand-in dates for the participants who didn’t have anybody to dance with so they wouldn’t feel left out. The main activities at this event included dancing, karaoke, funnel cakes, and a FlipBook photo booth. As volunteers, our main duty was to make sure nobody was left out and encourage the participants to take part in different activities. The highlight of the night was the rose game where the participants were taught how to properly ask someone to dance. Male participants received a red rose to give to a female if he wants to ask her to dance, while female participants received a white rose to give to a male. The goal of the game was to teach the participants appropriate ways to interact with other people. Since the participants were all teens and adults, we just wanted to teach them the appropriate ways to ask someone to dance and also how to graciously accept or deny the offer.
As volunteers, this experience was enriching because this also taught us how to interact with people with developmental disabilities. Unless we have someone in our family or friends with these disabilities, our chances of interaction with these people are slim. Personally, I have to admit that this experience was a little awkward at first, and it will be awkward for many people because they were never placed into these situations before. This experience has expanded our perspectives as regular college students because we got exposure to a cause that we were unfamiliar with. Whether you are planning to become a politician, teacher, doctor, lawyer, psychologist, or any other career path, gaining a different perspective can help us make better decisions.