I am an Interdisciplinary Studies Major, individually designing my course of study. My concentration is Non-profit development, learning the skills and the abilities one must have in order to create an organization. I aspire to make one that gives positive influences to children and adults with disabilities, as well as, help parents learn the skills needed raise their child. The question I am working towards is “How can I educate the surrounding population about the different disabilities while at the same time developing more opportunities for the disabled population to succeed and grow?” The organization I would like to create is going to be called Yahweh’s World- Come as you are, be who you be. The word Yahweh in Greek means “I be who I be”. This phrase applies to this population perfectly, what one child with Down syndrome can’t do another can. I hope that this will become a safe haven and a place of guidance.
There are four parts to this program. Part one, will be a life skills program set up for the adults in the area. This will give them a chance to work on skills such as setting the table, counting change and using cleaning supplies. There are a good percentage of people who could live in a group home or even with a small group of friends, if they had extra training and practice. This part of the program will hopefully give adults with disabilities more opportunities for jobs and positive feedback. This will also be a way for them to get out and meet people, by having social gatherings and doing service projects. Part two, will be a summer camp. Counselors will have a child with disabilities and a child without disabilities. The counselor will be responsible for facilitating growth between campers to teach love and acceptance at a younger age. Part Three, will be a mentorship program set up in a similar way to the camp where the Big Sibling will have two younger ones. This will occur throughout the year, and the requirements will be to do at least three hours of service as a group and have at least two social gatherings each month. I believe the best way to be accepted into a community is to give back to it. Part four, will be a support network for the parents of the organization. This will be a chance for them to get out and have fun, as well as, learn skills as a parent with a child with disabilities. This gives them a chance to talk with, to learn from and encourage each other. I hope to have Parent’s Night Out at least once a month.
I chose this area of study out of inspiration from my friends Ronda, Cameron and Will. They have a range of disabilities from Down syndrome to Microcephaly. I have been hanging out with them for the last 7 years and each day they amaze me. Before I met them, I had no knowledge of disabilities and I was very ignorant. I was one of the people that pitied them and felt bad that they were born incapable. I have learned so much from them and had my expectations thrown out. This year Will is graduating from High School, Ronda and Cameron are going to be seniors. Each child, whether born with disabilities or without one is special and capable, things may take longer but one thing that helps is having expectations and love for what they are capable of. I think we do a poor job of loving on people for who they are, without comparisons to others. This is something that happens in all populations of people, Ronda is a girl who happened to be born with Down syndrome, she is not her disability. We get so hung up on titles whether it is disabled, freak, jock or prep and forget that we are all people who crave relationships. I feel a calling to teach this to the world: that we are more alike than we think.
Everyone deserves an opportunity to develop and grow while being loved in their struggles. I feel called to create this program. I know it is going to be hard and there is a lot of work that will go into it, but this is something I have been planning out for over 5 years now. My concentration is giving me the opportunity to develop all the skills needed to accomplish my goal.