Student Senators “got their hands dirty” for service week

Volunteers Braydon Vinson, Andrew Snow, Jordan Brink, and Maria Palazuelos put the finishing touches on their cleanup at the east entrance of Ernie Miller Nature Center in Olathe, Kansas. Photo by Yoshi Stout, student reporter.

Student Senate Service Week was held, Mar. 25-31. The senate put out a volunteer sign-up sheet prior to the events. 

321 Fit – Wellness Event was the first event the student senate volunteered at. The event had guest speaker, Chris Nikic, who was the first Down Syndrome athlete to complete the Ironman Triathlon. 

Nikic came and gave a speech in support of World Down Syndrome Day, which was on Mar. 21. After Nikic’s speech, attendees partook in fitness-related activities. Student Senators, Kynleigh Chappell and Maria Palazuelos volunteered as greeters for the event. They welcomed families and directed them and answered questions. 

“Chris Nikic had a very inspirational message and I believe everyone there was inspired by it,” Chappell said. “Maria and I even got to talk to Chris Nikic and take a photo with him. Overall, I feel like this event was a great way to start service week for JCCC.

Senators and volunteers took turns reading to children at Hiersteiner Child Development Center, on Mar. 27 and 31.

“Reading to children was enjoyable,” Anthony Rima, student senate member, said. “I was with David Omwenga and Sherry Osborn, two other senators. The kids were amazing and seemed to enjoy having new readers. The three of us read to three different age groups. Reading various children’s books like “Llama Llama Red Pajamas” and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”

Student Senators, Maria Palazuelos, Andrew Snow, Yassin Ali, and other students visited Ernie Miller Nature Center, Mar. 28, as part of the Student Senate Service Week. 

Seven volunteers cleared the grounds of dead shrubs and wood to be replanted with new native species this season. 

The volunteers first toured the Ernie Miller Nature Center with Regina Wasson, Outdoor Education Specialist, to learn about the native species and wildlife, some of which the Center rehabilitated and released back into the wild. 

They then worked through the afternoon, removing the wood and tall grasses to bare dirt. 

“It’s so helpful to have people that are wanting to get their hands dirty,” Wasson said.

After the job was done, Maria Palazuelos, Senate Vice President, thanked the volunteers and said, “I think we killed it.”

Palazuelos said it was an effort for the Senate to connect with the rest of Johnson County, especially in ways they can’t from JCCC’s campus. 

“They do so much for us, so it’s our turn to give back to them,” Palazuelos added.

Student Senators then volunteered to peer-mentor CLEAR Connect students, Mar. 29. The volunteers would engage in activities with students, hang out with them, help them with homework, and just answer questions students had about the senate.

It was super fun sitting in on their job readiness class and learning more about the difference between adaptability and flexibility in the workplace,” Carson Couch, Student Senate Treasurer, said. “It made me feel confident that these students will be prepared and well-equipped to enter a work environment and thrive. It also made me feel good that these students support one another and come up with ways to make each other feel good about going to college.”

Senators then volunteer at Johnson County Developmental Supports, Mar. 30, helping them make crayons and drums out of household items.

Senate Vice President, Maria Palazuelos said that she thinks service week went great. 

“I think we were able to reach a lot of people in a lot of different ways, which was special to see,” Palazuelos said. “It was also great to see people who weren’t on Student Senate volunteer as well. I enjoyed all the events, especially making crayons and drums at Johnson County Developmental Supports. Overall though, my favorite part was seeing all of the different ways we were able to make an impact that week.”

Abby Rinehart, News Editor, and Yoshiki Stout, student reporter

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