Joel came out to ease the transition to having me lead the group. Clearly, Joel is adored by all of the participants who were thrilled to see him return for the first class. It appeared that I had my work cut out for me if I was going to be taking over his role. Joel introduced me to the group as I learned some of the children's names. But as soon as the familiar opening chords of the “Hello” song started, the energy was high and everyone was singing and participating with incredible enthusiasm. We sang through a couple of songs before some of the children led us into an extra long set of jumping and moving around. I introduced the big bag of instruments and led a “Shaking medley” of “Shake it Baby, Shake It”, “Hey There Shakey Shakey”, and “Twist and Shout”. We followed that with the Parachute and Little Green Frog before singing our Goodbye Song. Both Joel and I were giving high fives at the end. I think everyone had a great time and I am really looking forward to next week. There were 18 children attending along with a good number of grown ups, and at least a couple staff from the shelter. I met a lot of people and I'm still figuring out who everyone is and what roles they play. But, they were all extremely excited and ready to go. All of the children had participated in groups with Joel before, and were singing along.
All of the staff and participants were extremely warm and welcoming. They clearly love the program and it is a pleasure to be a part of it this session. One child was visibly distraught that Joel would not be returning to lead the class. I have learned that she had been attending the group since she was about 4 months old. She sat with her back to me for most of the class but seemed to open up a little towards the end. Other than that, everyone was extremely receptive.