What happens when you challenge a creative and impassioned teen to develop activities to help children in need?
David Engle, a teen from Glen Rock, NJ, rose to the challenge, when he started Carnivals for Children on Wheels. This unique program brings free carnivals to children who are underprivileged, homeless, and/or mentally or physically challenged. These events are completely free for all who attend. At the carnivals the children experience games, prizes, a clown, a magician, tattooing, and inflatable games (moonwalk, slide, obstacle course), cotton candy and many more exciting activities.
The carnivals are run by volunteers, most of whom are high school students, and they do just about everything: run the carnival games and prize booth, act as the mascot, set up the event and fundraise for the future carnivals. Volunteers also help to plan events and to create new carnival games and fundraising ideas.
"The summer before 9th grade I volunteered at an amazing therapeutic horse back riding facility called Pony Power of NJ,” says David Engle. “Once I volunteered there I realized that I had to give more of myself to help other people. I also knew that I was capable of running carnivals since I had run them with my father at our temple for many years. So I had the inspiration one day to combine my love for carnivals with helping other people, and that is how Carnivals for Children on Wheels grew to what it is today."
Now Carnivals for Children on Wheels has over 100 registered volunteers and is funded solely by generous, private donations. The organization has run events for such groups as The Paterson Boys and Girls Club, Camp Acorn and Camp Lots of Fun, a program for children of homeless families in Bergen County. Teen volunteers are welcome! The Carnivals are a great place to volunteer, says David, because you see so many happy children going home with arms full of prizes and faces full of smiles.
For information and other ideas about teens volunteering, check out www.bergenvolunteers.org (click on BergenVolunTEENS) or call 201-489-9454.