Genevieve gets her game on and gives back

Lots of kids and teens love to play Wii, but most just do it to have fun with their friends on the weekend or chill out after school.  Genevieve Spence, however, figured out how to turn her love for the video game system and her passion for helping others into a project to benefit her community.  This 13-year-old Girl Scout from Newark, DE, purchased Wii systems and  games for Alzheimer patients at assisted living homes in her state, and spends time socializing and playing with the residents.  Her outstanding community service lead to her recognition as a 2011 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards State Honoree, an honor given to students across the country for making a positive difference. 
GL caught up with Genevieve to talk about her project, her inspiration, and her hopes for the future. 


Girls’ Life:  Tell us about your community service project. 

Genevieve Spence:  My community service project was a simple idea to raise money to buy a Wii and donate it to a local memory care, assisted living place in my hometown.  I then went every week, at first to teach the staff and residents how to play different games.  After a short time I wanted to go and play with the residents.  We would laugh and tease each other about the games and it was fun to see them playing golf, canoeing and bowling like they used to do. 


GL:  How did your project get started?

Genevieve:  When I was 10 years old, my Brownie troop visited the same place to perform some short skits on Mother’s Day.  Afterward, we shared Girl Scout cookies and ice cream [with the residents].  At that visit, the activity director, Miss Barbara, explained they could remember times when they were a kid and talk about it like it was right now.  She was right!  It was so easy to get along with them once you understand who they think they are.  I had just gotten a Wii and thought about how much fun I had.  The games on it were familiar to them like bowling and golf. I brought all of that together in my [Girl Scout] Bronze Award at age 11. 


GL:  What are your hopes for this project in the future?

Genevieve:  I would love to grow the program with friends most of all. After that [I would like] to influence others to do the same in their communities.  Once you volunteer and make friends you always want to do more and you want to stay longer than you have time for. 


I would also like to influence Nintendo to create an easier controller for the slower moving programs we use.  That will help those with dementia and Alzheimer's greatly.


GL:  What have you learned from your volunteer work?

Genevieve:  I have learned that volunteering fills your heart with a great feeling of being something greater than just yourself.  To be involved with others who appreciate the little bit you think you are doing is the greatest feeling in the world.  Everybody wonders why they are who they are and what [they are] supposed to do.  Volunteering answers many of those questions.  Like in the Girl Scout Journey on leadership, it starts with me.


GL:  What advice do you have for girls who want to help others?

Genevieve:  Everyone can get involved with what they feel comfortable doing.  Most of the Girl Scouts I know do environmental or animal care projects.  Others just raise money or volunteer doing cleanups.  If that is what you feel comfortable doing then talk to people already [at those places] and see what they need.


Wanna have fun and serve your community by spending time with elders like Genevieve?  Contact an assisted living facility or retirement home in your community and ask about volunteering! 


For more information about the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards and how to apply, CLICK HERE. 


by Marie Hansen | 2/1/2016