What is Wildcat Friends?
Wildcat Friends is a program at UNH that helps to give developmentally disabled young adults access to the kind of educational and social opportunities that our university offers. Students at UNH can volunteer with this group by helping to plan fun things for the group to do, and by building friendships with group participants. Wildcat Friends is an extension of the Friends in Action Project, based in Portsmouth. The program provides an affordable college experience, and balances managing individual needs with encouraging a cooperative group dynamic.
How I make Wildcat Friends at UNH:
I spend time with this group once a week, while they’re on campus. Each week, the group can be found digging into a huge variety of activities. Some days are more relaxed, with a few different games going on around the room, including pool, go fish, and the ever-popular UNO! Other days we hop on a bus to visit the UNH horse barns or greenhouse. We also like to learn new skills together, like button making, or drumming! No matter what it is we have planned for the day, though, my favorite part of volunteering is always just talking to and getting to know other members of the group.
This is my second semester volunteering with Wildcat Friends, and it is one of the most rewarding volunteering experiences I have ever had. The volunteers arrive every week as excited as the participants to take part in all of the games and crafts. I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to build an enriching program for such a diverse group, and seeing the tremendous amount of support, respect, and care that each member has for one another is truly inspiring. I am incredibly grateful for the friendships I’ve made through this program, and I look forward to my time with them every week.