Notre Dame athletes volunteering with special needs preschoolers at Studebaker Center

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Notre Dame athletes are carving a little bit of time from their busy schedules each week to spend some time with preschoolers. The program helps kids with special needs develop their social and life skills. 

Notre Dame students from 26 different teams come to the Studebaker center every Friday morning to spend some time with kids who really need it. They read with them, play with them, and really get to know them.
“I think at the end of the week it’s just kind of a stress reliever, they show up, and these kids greet them with smiles. It’s so awesome to see how happy they get when our student athletes walk in,” Collin Stoecker said, the Program Coordinator for Notre Dame Athletics.

The athletes volunteer in four Head Start classrooms and with South Bend Community School Corporations Special Needs and Abilities Preschool program.

“The kids get to create a bond with you and you get to create a bond with the kids,” Naya Sharp said, a Notre Dame track athlete.

The program started just a few years ago and since it’s already received back to back community service awards from the university.

“It’s nice to be recognized but i think the best thing is to see the impact we have every week,” Stoecker said.

These smiles are what keep the athletes looking forward to Fridays.

“Making them happy, it’s always back and forth, but I think we make them happy and I don’t think they realize they always have the same impact back on us,” Mollie Carr said, a Notre Dame lacrosse athlete.

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