The sounds of children laughing is a common sound heard coming from the exhibits of the Marbles Kids Museum in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. For volunteer Emily Wollum, this sound fuels her passion to give back.
Emily has been volunteering with the museum for five years. During this time, she’s had the opportunity to help the museum staff in a variety of ways. From giving science lessons to kids, playing activities, or assisting with in-house events, Emily has helped with it all.
“The group I volunteer with, the STEM Play Corps, introduces science, technology, engineering, and math activities to kids all over the area,” Emily said. She meets young museum visitors and teaches them about the exhibits. With these lessons, the kids gain valuable information for these in-demand subjects. “It sparks their curiosity and helps them in their school lessons as well,” explained Emily.
Currently in 12th grade, Emily also has her own classes to attend. She finds the time to give back thanks to her online school, North Carolina Virtual Academy (NCVA). NCVA provides Emily with the time to balance her classwork with the lessons she gives at the museum, and more.
“NCVA gives me more time in my day to volunteer,” Emily said. Instead of being restricted to a brick-and-mortar school schedule for several hours a day, she can take her classes with her wherever there is an internet connection.
With more time to serve her community, Emily is always looking for new opportunities to help others. In addition to her museum work, she helps lead a team sport called Goalball, a Paralympic sport designed for those who are visually impaired.
Helping with Goalball has a personal connection for Emily, as she is visually impaired herself. She not only helps with this organization, but she has formed her own business to help those with similar challenges. Emily established Kardz 4 Kidz, making and selling painted cards and donating a portion of the proceeds to purchase technology for students who are visually impaired.
Emily’s mother, Tonya, is proud of the work that her daughter is doing for others. “She has grown into a mentor and leader through her experiences with Marbles Kids Museum,” Tonya said. “She has realized that she can make a difference in the lives of others when she volunteers.”
With the difference that Emily has made in her community, she does not plan on stopping anytime soon. She continues to push herself further and has set a goal to earn the President’s Volunteer Service Gold Award, which requires young adult volunteers to serve 250 hours in a year.
Making a difference in the lives of others is something that Emily encourages everyone to do. “I think everyone should take the time to volunteer regularly,” she said. “There are places that always need extra help. Do something outside of yourself and make a difference.”
To learn more about North Carolina Virtual Academy, visit https://ncva.k12.com/