It All Begins with a Passion and a Goal
How one Legend Senior is Changing the Lives of Thousands of Children
PARKER - Legend High School Senior, Nicole Steiner, saw the loneliness that kids were feeling while being hospitalized, experiencing medical issues or sickness, having a disability, or living in poverty. She wanted to do something to change this and bring a human connection to those in need, contributing to their healing process and quality of life.
Steiner began the community service program A Game for You. The program provides board games, puzzles, books and journals, collected from donations by people around the community, to Colorado children experiencing life challenges.
“When kids feel lonely and different from other kids because they are sick, poor, or have special needs, their health risks increase due to social isolation. Games, books and puzzles help stimulate mental and social interaction, which can lead to mental, emotional and physical healing,” Steiner said.
She came up with the idea from her own personal experience with her mother, who suffered a fall down a flight of stairs when Steiner was just two-and-a-half years old.
“As one medical complication led to another, [my mom] ended up bed ridden for a number of years. The way that we connected while she was sick and hurt was through playing board games together. I aim to help those who are sick, lonely and misunderstood to find a connection with others through games, especially in situations where words are not enough to make the connections that bring comfort and healing. A Game For You really aims to reduce loneliness.”
Steiner credits her Douglas County schooling and the personnel at Legend High School for giving her the skills and tools she needed to found A Game for You, which in only 16 short months has raised thousands of donations.
“Legend High School is a school bursting with enthusiastic and supportive teachers. I've always felt safe to explore new subjects, knowing that I'd meet passionate and understanding teachers in whatever classes I chose to explore. The advisors, such as Mrs. [Tina] Stroman, have given me help and support in organizing my events, donations and volunteers for A Game For You. Mr. [Shane] King, my homeroom teacher, has also adopted my project for our class community service project.”
“Of all the experiences that have changed my success and my outlook as the founder of my project, I'm especially thankful that I chose to take a public speaking class this year. Already I have learned so much on how to present myself and my information, including how to speak with not only my words but with my movements, volume, pacing, etc. I never knew that I would enjoy speaking in front of others so much.”
Steiner is also seeking to raise awareness about this public health concern, recently gaining the attention of Colorado Senator Cory Gardner. This year, Steiner was one of only 51 candidates selected nationwide by Youth Service America (YSA) and the Festival of Children Foundation to travel to Washington, D.C. this past month for leadership training and meetings with Gardner, as well as other members of the State’s congressional delegation. She was chosen for the substantive, large-scale change she is making on behalf of Colorado children.
“The main thing I pulled from my experiences in Washington, D.C. is that not only does my voice matter, but anyone's can if they take a passionate stance and do the work to make a change. I didn't anticipate that I'd feel so heard and supported by so many adults, especially Senator Cory Gardner. My ideas and my passions mattered to them.”
In addition to the training and meetings in Washington, the Youth Service America award gives Steiner the benefit of networking with the other 50 candidates, a $1,000 grant towards A Game for You and ongoing guidance by YSA and the Festival of Children Foundation.
“These teens and young adults are the future of philanthropy. They understand the importance of making a difference and giving back. Festival of Children Foundation’s collaboration with YSA allows us to give these kids the tools to create a powerful youth network that will create lasting change across the country,” said Sandy Segerstrom Daniels, founder and executive director of Festival of Children Foundation.
Now that Steiner has returned home, she is launching multiple campaigns to collect and distribute games. This week, Legend High School is hosting a donation drive for games, puzzles, books and journals.
She also would like to inspire other teens to volunteer.
“I think if youth knew that they could be taken seriously for their cause, a lot more kids would be trying to make a difference in the world. It all begins with a passion and a goal. The fact that I've had so much success, that I can keep setting bigger and bigger goals and dreams, has been the greatest blessing,” said Steiner. “I've also seen how grateful people are when given to them something as simple as a one dollar pack of playing cards; touching a life doesn't require the strength to move mountains. Sometimes you can move someone’s mountain by spending $4.99 on a game or puzzle.”