The memories and the highlights of my 10 weeks with the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio don’t reflect the extra chromosomes, the cognitive delays, the struggles at golf, or anything like that. They reflect the people. They reflect the personalities, the adversity, the positivity, the joviality, and the accomplishments.
It’s not about the struggles, it’s about the growth. And here comes the ultra-highlight of my Summer–the signature moment that still makes my stomach feel all jittery: one of our Summer Learning Academy students had gone through our five week program almost entirely non-responsive. She didn’t enjoy participating, she didn’t feel inclined to communicate much more than to tell us “no” or “later.” She was special though; in fact, behind her stubbornness (which we all had, I mean, really) existed a child who enjoyed learning, who enjoyed celebrating the small things, and who enjoyed goldfish; whose sometimes beautiful if not poorly-timed smile was a sign that every situation has its bright spots. She had scored a zero on our pre-assessment. She had stemmed and remained silent during almost every question we asked her during the program. But the post-assessment was her time to shine. The single-greatest moment of my summer sprang up unexpectedly when this young girl wowed me by answering EVERY QUESTION. Incredible. A miracle. She said more words to me in that 10 minutes than in the previous 5 weeks! I can’t really put it into words, but I almost cried. Coming to terms with the fact that I was never going to know if our five weeks had made an impact in her life, I then had to come to terms that no other first grader could have made more of an impact in my life. Crazy, huh?
I remember the people. Lunch with Scoonie Penn: man, I played it cool in BDubs, but I was calling my mom as soon as I got into the parking lot!
I remember the people: Goofy poses at golf academy. I don’t know how well they shot, but they made pretty good impersonations of Tiger Woods’ photo at least.
I remember the people:
Last Thursday we had the Summer Learning Academy 2012 Graduation Celebration. Kids running everywhere but to their diplomas while this powerpoint with pomp and circumstance played. “When your name is on the screen, walk to Miss Cindy and Miss Shelli [not sprint to your mom’s lap!]” Afterwards, I was picking up and swinging around the kids at every request. I enjoyed talking with the parents, and was so humbled when presented with these:
I remember the people. I worked with the greatest office staff out there. Whether I spent afternoons laughing with Denise, tried hiding my excitement around basketball players with Laura (well she didn’t have as much to hide), sat in the wisdom of our Ex-Exec Nancy, rivaled Abbey for best make-shift work space, or enjoyed the ups and downs during the Summer Academy with my partner in crime Marge, I remember the people.
Thanks to everyone involved with this. Thank you so very much.