On Sunday December 2, 2012 the James Madison Student-Athlete Advisory Council hosted a "Winter Wonderland" activity for local elementary school children around the Rockingham County area. The event took place on Godwin Field and involved many of JMU's intercollegiate teams.
The main aspect of the event consisted of JMU student-athletes facilitating and participating in different games throughout the day with the kids. Activities such as T-ball, Frisbee toss, speed hurdles and soccer games were all a part of the day's agenda for the kids and the athletes. The children were given candy and small prizes for their success at certain stations, however the overall goal of the event was for everyone, especially the kids involved, to enjoy themselves.
Senior Gabrielle Poore of the track and field team shared her thoughts on the experience by saying, "Overall, the Winter Wonderland event that was organized by SAAC was very successful. The student-athletes that helped to make the event happen were so enthusiastic and set on making it a great experience for the kids. Everyone had fun, and that was the main purpose for the event."
All of the children who participated in the Winter Wonderland activity are a part of the Overcoming Barriers project, which is designed to give children with disabilities in the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County area the opportunity to participate in activities that they usually aren't able to and to ultimately lead them to living healthier lifestyles.
When asked about the importance of volunteering and giving back to the surrounding community, senior outside hitter Danielle Erb of the volleyball team said, "I think it is something that can make a person whole. The smallest things such as playing a game with a child can make their day and that is amazing to know. The Harrisonburg community does so much when it comes to supporting JMU Athletics you can't help but want to thank them in some way."
The SAAC plans to take the feedback they received from Winter Wonderland and use it to construct a similar event next semester called "Spring Fling." In addition, they also plan on making both events annual occurrences and hope for larger turnouts and more athlete participation in the coming years.