Written by: Aaron Zhou, FCSN Voices Youth Reporter
Graphics by: Katherine Geng, FCSN Voices Graphic Artist
From June 27 to July 8, rising high school sophomore Aarav Sharma instructed a two-week badminton summer program dedicated towards introducing FCSN students to the sport. The camp was a major success, receiving plenty of positive feedback from the community.
Sharma has collaborated with FCSN in various past occasions. In addition to purchasing and donating therapy kits to FCSN, he created a nonprofit organization, TheCoderSquad, and designed a 16-week basic computer science class teaching 12 FCSN students. Sharma was impressed by the students’ enthusiasm and active participation throughout the coding course and wanted to do even more for FCSN. With his experience as a Varsity Badminton player attending Archbishop Mitty High School, Sharma decided to connect his badminton interests with his community and organize the two-week badminton summer camp program.
When the badminton camp first began, Sharma came across an early challenge. Since many students had no prior knowledge of the sport, training them on the fundamentals was difficult. Successfully teaching the basics, such as how to hold a racket, was nevertheless essential for upcoming stages of the camp. “Teaching them the concepts was pretty hard, since [their] attention spans are different,” Sharma said. “I remember on the first day, it was really hard getting their attention.”
As the camp progressed, Sharma quickly discovered that the students appreciated hands-on experiences more than lecture-based activities. After receiving the opportunity to play badminton themselves, the students rapidly picked up on the fundamentals and truly began enjoying the sport. Some of the students were intrigued to the point where they sparred with their parents even after the classes ended. “They loved to play badminton hands on and interact with each other in person,” Sharma said.
While Sharma realized the importance of interaction within the sport, he also accounted for skill differences between the students. When pairing up the students for practices and games, age and overall experience were taken into consideration. This method successfully ensured that individuals progressed equally without struggling to keep up with the rest of the class.
After two weeks of training, the students saw dramatic improvements in their fundamentals and playing capabilities. More importantly, Sharma achieved his goal of initiating the students’ passion for the sport. According to Sharma, his fondest memory of the camp was when one of his students drew a wholesome picture using crayons in the therapy kits Sharma donated. “One of the students gave me a drawing of him happily playing [badminton] with our volunteers,” Sharma said. “I will forever cherish that picture.”
Moving forward, Sharma seeks to continue making a positive impact on special needs children at FCSN with his skills and passions. He also anticipates resuming badminton classes for FCSN students. “I would definitely like to teach badminton this upcoming fall,” Sharma said. “I already contacted [FCSN faculty], and [they’re] getting me set with the details of running another badminton camp in the future.”