STEP Service-Learning and Community Service Project -Kyla Beecham

  1. My step project fell under the Service Learning and Community Service category. The National Down Syndrome convention was held this summer in July in Orlando, Florida and I volunteered as a counselor in the kid’s camp. I also visited Universal Studios with some of the kids and traveled around Florida.
  2. My views are different after completing this trip. I was immersed in a world I never thought possible. There were so many self-advocates at this event and so many independent people with Down syndrome teaching me. The convention showed me the amount of resources there are for people with intellectual disabilities and that people have been fighting extremely hard to create these resources. I have come away with a greater understanding in the multitude of people who graciously advocate and fight for a better world. I’ve become discouraged in the past with the lack of opportunities for people with disabilities but this event made me see the world different. This made me excited to see that the world is changing and people are out there changing it. I learned about myself that I am immensely passionate in being an advocate for those with disabilities and working with children. I was in the classroom with many children that I made great bonds with. I assumed that I would do more macro work in the future and work in policy making but this made me open up to the possibility of micro work and working with children specifically.
  3.  A specific event made led to the change I previously discussed and that was the reading by an author who wrote their own book by 19 years old. This woman was incredible and inspiring. She has Down syndrome and thought more people should know what her life is like so she wrote a book on her life. I sat there and listened to her thought process and what she’s gone through. It was shocking to me some of the adversity she has faced in her life and the people who did not think she would succeed in her writing.It made me reflect on the work I’ve been doing and what meaning it has to me now hearing her thoughts. I have been trying to advocate for individuals with Down syndrome and was reaching out for more ideas and other ways to help. She helped me beyond anything anyone else could have. This woman has been advocating for others with Down syndrome with her courage and thoughts. I began to understand that I need to believe more in those people who could possibly be a writer like her or even a fashion model.

    Another event that led to my transformation was hearing a parent tell me that their child has not let another person hold them and interact in play with other kids until under my supervision. It was heartwarming to learn that this child felt comfortable with me and that his parents were overjoyed to see progress in his social skills. I made connections with these kids and wanted to help them grow. These children were incredibly intelligent and great to counsel.

  4. This change is significant in my life because I plan on advocating for individuals with Down syndrome in the future. I am an advocacy events coordinator and needed this experience to expand my horizons and make a more successful program. This inspired me to go beyond what I have in the past and work even harder to advocate. I am going to be a social worker and a lot of the parents I talked to have worked with social workers with their children and spoke to me about what they thought they need in a social worker and what I should strive for. This experience was extremely helpful for me with setting up for future goals
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