Neal Falletta-Cowden, a sophomore here at Lawrence, is the current President of CADY-Confidence and Determination in Youth, a student organization. A unique group on campus, CADY doesn’t only try to enrich the lives of Lawrentians by expanding their college experience; they also reach out to the surrounding community to demonstrate what a liberal arts education can do for people at a younger age.
Can you tell us a little about CADY?
Confidence and Determination in Youth is a club dedicated to promoting the liberal arts education to children of elementary school age (first through fifth grade). We do this by putting on an event once per term that has an education-related theme, such as Creative Arts Day or World Cultures Day. On these days, we bring together clubs from all around Lawrence whose topics relate to the day’s theme, and then we have them put on activities that educate and entertain the children.
Why did you decide to join CADY?
I joined CADY last year as a freshman because my sister Ashlan ’09 had started the club when she attended Lawrence, and I wanted to continue that legacy in a way. It’s also a cause that’s important to me because it’s rare that children get an early exposure to the kinds of extracurricular things that happen on a college campus.
Why do you think CADY is important to the community?
CADY is important to the community because it promotes the liberal arts education that not every high school promotes during the college application process. I think the liberal arts path is a great option for many people when they begin looking at schools, and while its popularity is growing, I don’t think it can ever be too early to start showing kids the way things work on this sort of campus.
As president of CADY, what are your hopes for the organization?
As president of CADY, I’d like for the club to get a little more publicity or more people interested in what we’re doing. Most people notice that once a term there are a bunch of kids running around campus on a certain Saturday, but not everyone realizes what the occasion is. Things have been going great for the club so far and I look forward to putting on more CADY days for kids to come and enjoy for years to come.
Just recently you held an event involving local students. How do you get local students involved?
We contact PTAs from the Appleton area and let them know when we will be putting on a CADY day, and we also have a solid group of children who have been coming to our events for years and continue to enjoy them. Some of the children who attend CADY days are the sons or daughters of Lawrence professors as well. Much of our local student outreach spreads by word of mouth, as well.
What was your most recent event and who was involved?
Our last event was World Cultures and Languages Day, on this past Saturday, Feb. 16, and it involved Lawrence students volunteering to put on activities that our first through fifth graders could enjoy, and then other Lawrence students to lead the groups of children from activity to activity.
What are some of your activities?
Some of the activities that were put on during World Cultures and Languages day included club Viva speaking Spanish with the children, teaching them how to dance the Salsa, and even smashing a piÃ±ata at one point. Other activities included Sign Language Club teaching kids how to say certain words and then playing games that required the children to do different gestures to spell words out in Sign.
What do you hope to achieve during your events?
We hoped to have the children leave Lawrence feeling like they had learned more about world cultures and the languages that are spoken across the globe. We also wanted them to leave campus interested in college life and the liberal arts in particular. I believe we achieved both of these goals.
And how did World Cultures and Languages Day go? Did the kids have a good time? Do you need more volunteers at your events?
The kids were great, there were definitely a few of the younger ones who every so often felt the need to sprint around the classrooms and jump over desks at certain points, but all in all everyone had a good time and went home having learned at least something they hadn’t known before.
We had enough volunteers from around Lawrence help out during the event, which was much needed and appreciated.
If you could say anything to the Lawrence community about being involved, what would it be?
To the Lawrence community I would say if you get a kick out of working with kids and want to promote the Lawrence education, feel free to join CADY or help out with our events. It’s a lot of fun bringing the Lawrence clubs together and hosting the events, and volunteers are always appreciated. We can always use more volunteers or students interested in helping out in the organization part of the events or the volunteering part, so just contact CADY if anyone would like to get involved.