SMILE is a Saturday morning gym and swim program offered to those who may otherwise not be able to participate in typical recreation programs due to their unique developmental needs. Each child is paired with a student volunteer from Mount Allison University to join them at the YMCA every Saturday.
“I’ve been paired with my buddy Spencer since I started at Mt. A in 2014, and honestly, seeing him on Saturdays is the highlight of my week, every single week. Words can’t even describe how much love I have in my heart for my SMILE buddy. These kids are SO cool, and it’s always such a blast hanging out with them. SMILE is such a great way to get involved at Mt. A and in the community; it’s such a positive, inclusive, fun environment. There’s something for everyone. It’s incredible.”
“SMILE is the one place I go to nearly every week that never fails to warm my heart. There is something uniquely amazing about this type of environment and the type of bonds you can form with your buddy who, at least in the cases that I have seen at both SMILE and the camp I worked at last summer, will express a certain forthright joy at even just your presence, even before all the fun activities we’ll inevitably do together. This joy is one that I feel has been forgotten in so many of the social interactions we have in our daily life. To be able to evoke this joy and spread it to not only my buddy, but to even other buddies around me is itself an honour and privilege that I cherish.”