Volunteer Spotlight- LMNOP and Edgewood College


To close out our Volunteer Appreciation Month spotlights- we are sharing about some of our awesome Child Life students from Edgewood College!

Emily Jost, Kendra Sanderfoot, Lauren Reilly and Laney Garrels lead our LMNOP (Language, Music ‘N Our Peeps) program on Friday morning.

This dedicated group brings energy, creativity and lots of excitement to our youngest participants and their families.

Each week these volunteers take turns planning the lesson that includes basic signs, a craft, story and music that teach the adorable kids how to communicate and interact with their peers.  A bonus of this program is that the parents and caregivers also get to learn and grow friendships.

Our volunteers shared a little about their experience of volunteering with GiGi’s Playhouse:

Emily Jost:

Emily is a Junior studying education with a concentration in Child Life and minor in Psychology! She begins her accelerated master’s in child Life this fall!

“I started volunteering at GiGi’s for my practicum class and fell in love with the description of LMNOP. Infancy- Toddler is my absolute favorite age group. The curiosity and vast learning these children experience during this period in development always puts a smile on my face. Plus, a weekly dose of cute kiddos is the break I need away from college. I also wanted to utilize the sign language we teach the kiddos. ASL and baby sign language is a inclusive language that more individuals should equip themselves with.

I have built many relationships with the kiddos and even the caregivers within our program, watching these children achieve new accomplishments no matter how small makes me so happy. I have also learned the importance of a “loose structured” lesson plan. Meaning, kiddos within this age range bounce from activity to activity and I have learned to appreciate it and go with the flow instead of always following the time slots in a lesson plan.

A challening part of this volunteering is that we have kiddos in our group ranging from ages 10 months – 3 years of age. Attention spans and abilities within development are in all different points. Learning to make an accommodating lesson plan was tricky at first but we caught on quickly as leaders.

One of my favorite moments from this program is the countless hugs I receive from the kiddos! Along with conducting sensory play activities such as “rescue the animals” during our beach themed lesson!

One of my favorite moments from this program is the countless hugs I receive from the kiddos!

Kendra Sanderfoot:

“I started volunteering her as part of my classe this semester and have worked with this population before.  I fell in love with the kids very quickly and think it’s so cool to see how much they have grown and developed in just a couple months! One of  my favorite moments from this session was our water play day. The kids really got into it.”

It is truly remarkable the impact this organization, staff and volunteers have

Lauren Reilley:

“I chose to volunteer at GiGi’s because I wholeheartedly believe in their mission, that is changing the way the world views Down syndrome, spreading the global message of acceptance for all.

This wonderful organization has created an all-inclusive, welcoming, fun, and supportive community for individuals with down syndrome and their family. It is truly remarkable the impact this organization, staff, and volunteers have.

I have always believed that even the smallest actions can make the largest impact and I feel that I am able to make a difference in each child’s life I interact with at GiGi’s in this way.

One of my favorite moments from our LMNOP program was during our water sensory play activity. The kiddos were fascinated with splashing water on one another while giving toy animal figures a “bath.” A few of them attempted to jump in the bath themselves! The combination of uncontrollable laughter and smiles always brightens my Friday mornings.

This is my first experience volunteering with infants-3 year olds. One of my favorite parts about the LMNOP program is being able to form ongoing relationships with the kiddos and their caregivers and seeing these children blossom from the very first session until now!”


Laney Garrels:

“I started volunteering at GiGi’s for a practicum through one of my child life classes at Edgewood. I love the programs I have participated in and would like to continue volunteering throughout the summer.

My favorite moment at LMNOP was when a participant climbed up into my lap to play with shaving cream sensory bags and cuddled all morning.

I have learned how important parent participation is for these programs and I am so happy that our kiddos have great people to bring them every week! ”


THANK YOU Emily, Kendra, Lauren and Laney for giving our newsest families such an incredible first experience with our Playhouse!

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