With A Little Help From My Friends: A Peer's Perspective
My name is Whitney Lux and I started volunteering with the WWVDN when I was 11 years old. I got involved with the Network when Haley Witt moved into my neighborhood; we instantly clicked and spent countless hours playing together in my front yard. When Angie invited me to attend a training, I knew I had to go. The first event I attended was summer camp in 2008 and I instantly fell in love with each of the kids who were there. Even at 11, I realized they were truly no different than I was and I hope that one day it can be a vision that we all have. We need to learn to look past their disability in order to see the love and joy they bring to all of those around them.
From the time I was 11 to 21 I went to every event I possibly could. Even once I left for college, I would try my best to make it down to come to at least one basketball and baseball game. It is through this organization my biggest dream for my life moving forward has been formed. This is a dream that has never once left my heart, it has only grown stronger as I have gotten older. Having spent so many years volunteering, the memories I have with the children are endless. From summer camps, talent shows, basketball, baseball, and getting to spend that special one-on-one time, they are memories I will forever cherish. I share a relationship with so many friends I have met through the Network, each relationship is different from the things we talk about to the activities we do but they are special friendships I will never forget.
I have learned more about life from the children I’ve met through the organization than anyone else could have taught me. It is through them I’ve learned to celebrate the little things because all accomplishments are worthy of celebration, a deeper level of what genuine love is, and just how similar we are. As cliche as it might sound it is through my time here that I have found my true calling and passion. I have known I wanted to be a teacher for a long time but my desire for inclusion in the classroom has grown tremendously, and having recently graduated I cannot wait to advocate for this need. I think that when we separate them from their peers, we are essentially putting them in a box and we are limiting opportunities they can take part in. Temple Grandin, a scientist, agricultural activist, and a college professor is quoted with saying that “The world needs different kinds of minds in order to work together”. I could not have said it better myself; alone we can do so little but when we work together, we can truly set the world on fire and that is when big things will happen.
Regardless of the number of chromosomes one has, our similarities and differences, I can assure you that we will all leave a lasting mark on this world and impact someone’s life. My time with the WWVDN network has slowly come to an end but I cannot wait to see how many more families are blessed through this Network and to watch it grow by leaps and bounds. I have a feeling big things are coming and I will always be cheering on all of the kids, families, and this Network as a whole. I just would like to thank all of the families for allowing me to love on your son or daughter for so many years, it has truly been a gift and I cannot thank you enough.