By Gianluca D’Elia
Children swarmed the campus mall on a bright afternoon for Rider’s second annual Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) on April 23. GYSD has become the world’s largest service event since its founding by Youth Serve America in 1988.
A total of 320 students from 20 campus organizations, clubs, fraternities and sororities came together to host a Fun and Fitness Carnival for children in the Lawrenceville and Trenton area. The event included carnival-style games, two bouncy houses, free food and a book fair with about 1,400 books.
Junior elementary education major Patrick Jones, who originated the idea for a GYSD event at Rider, said, “I am extremely thankful to the countless groups and individuals who got behind what started as a small idea of having a [combined] field day and book fair for youth and have turned it into what we hope to be an annual tradition of connecting the Rider community and the local Mercer County community.”
“Two years ago, [Jones] said he wanted to do more around healthy living, so he’s been a large driving force in helping us shape GYSD to what it is now,” said Community Service Coordinator Xany Whitmoore. “He introduced the Fun and Fitness theme, which we used last year to jump-start the book fair component. We’ve been planning it since last year’s GYSD.”
Since this is only the second year that Rider has hosted GYSD, Jones said he was worried about how many people would attend but was pleasantly surprised.
“We were pleased because we had approximately 120 local youth and families attend,” he said. “As we grow this event, we hope for turnout to increase, but this takes time as does any other annual event.”
This was the first time Rider has hosted a GYSD event that was open to the public, rather than only inviting children from the afterschool programs the Bonner Scholars work with, according to Whitmoore.
“We decided to open the event to the entire community for three primary reasons,” Whitmoore said. “First, we had previously spent a large amount of our budget on transportation. Opening it to the entire community allows more people to be involved while allowing us to spend that money on more exciting things like bouncy castles and snacks. Secondly, we received a lot of feedback that we wanted to do more for our immediate community, so hosting a free children’s carnival was a great way to do that and reach a larger audience. Lastly, this style of event gave us a way to get more student clubs and university departments involved.”
Jones said he hopes to make GYSD a campus tradition.
“We are already gathering feedback and formulating ideas for the future and can’t wait to see what Global Youth Service Day 2018 has in store,” he said.