Today was a very special day for me! I volunteered at SRVS, which is an organization that enhances the lives of adults with disabilities, both mental and physical. Upon my arrival, Astrid French, the vibrant and passionate Curriculum Coordinator showed me around. She firmly believes in using the Montessori method of teaching, which resonated with me. I used much of it educating my own kids. In short, this type of education is all about multi-age groups that foster peer learning, uninterrupted blocks of work time, and guided choice of work activity.
While I waited on instruction I sat with a class that was performing karaoke. The song “Happy” came on, and when it did it seemed to me that all barriers were broken. It was as if teachers and students were one big happy family. The room erupted with smiles and laughter, even the staff stopped to dance and enjoy this event. Those who were able stood and danced (along with me), and those who could not either clapped or moved in their seats. It was a very moving and exciting experience. In these first few minutes, I knew what my blog name must be.
I absolutely love all holidays, especially Easter, and go all out for them. I was thrilled to learn we would be dyeing Easter eggs with all classes. My job responsibilities included stuffing candy in eggs, preparing the egg-dyeing room (loved this because I am an organizer) and then showing the classes how to decorate their eggs (I love being creative). This was challenging due to the range of disabilities, but very touching and rewarding. Seeing the looks on their faces as they watched the eggs change color was priceless. Even in their situations they were able to find joy and something to be happy about!
As you know by now, I have a tender heart, so it was not all laughs and fun today. The harsh reality is this: the majority of the people in these classes are either homeless or have no family. Homelessness is bad enough, but imagine someone who cannot talk or express themselves or even hold a spoon. Even though some of the students the staff works with will never be better, their quality of living is improved.
Today I got to observe a break-though of two students: one who can be aggressive and usually unable to sit still, sat for well over eight minutes waiting for his eggs to be the right color; the other young man who is very low functioning was able to hold the spoon and dip the egg in the color by himself. The staff was overjoyed by what they had just witnessed, and I was moved to tears.
Astrid and Adrian (a sweet man who works there) told me to quote them: “Michelle was a lifesaver today!”
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