By Carolyn Bennie
As I sit down to write my third and final piece for this series, I’m trying to think of words of wisdom to leave you with.
First, I would like to thank all of you for reading this and sharing in my funny stories. Secondly, and most importantly, I hope I have inspired you all to think of children with special needs as simply that, special. They may require an extra hand or a little more patience, but they are still children: children with smiles and laughter; children with boo-boos and tears. I hope that through these stories you have considered volunteering your time with individuals who have special needs. I can promise you one thing: It is one of the most rewarding things you will ever do.
Hopefully you remember John, the little boy who giggles a lot and enjoys picking up other children whenever they fall. Well, last week while we were playing John got scared (at this point, I can’t remember what of) and ran towards me screaming “NOOOO!” Afterwards, he leapt into my arms and clung to me as though it was a matter of life and death. Once he realized that said “scary thing” was no longer a threat, he leapt down and kept playing. Although a much simpler example, John’s bravery gave me the courage to face my fears about heading to college next year. I hope that his bravery will give you the courage to face one of your fears as well. Maybe it’s the fear of volunteering.
The first time I opened the door into the preschool room, I was so nervous. I was worried the kids wouldn’t like me. Turns out they like almost everyone. Someday, I hope I can be like that. I was worried I wouldn’t know what to do. Turns out, I didn’t. The kids showed me, though. They showed me how to accept, how to be patient, how to laugh, and most importantly, they showed me that my childish enthusiasm for simple things like snack time and “helicopter rides” will bring me a lot of happiness.
I taught them how to read the word “cat.” The toddlers at Tessa’s Place have easily made the biggest impact on me than anyone else in my four years at Assumption High School in Davenport. Thank you, John and Emit and all the other kids at Tessa’s Place in Bettendorf. I look forward to seeing you soon.
If you have any questions about volunteering at Tessa’s Place, please contact the organization at (563) 332-8010.
(Carolyn Bennie is a senior at Assumption High School in Davenport. She is writing these articles as a part of her senior religion class service project. Children’s names have been changed for privacy purposes.)