Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – Best Buddies

Name: Lilly Zauresh Sterling
From: Lodi, Ohio
Grade: 11th grade
School: Cloverleaf High School
Votes: 0

Befriending people in need is the most amazing feeling, and I have been helping
“my buddies,” kids with disabilities, for six years. Helping
these kids makes them feel accomplished and pride they might never
experience otherwil
I began helping kids with disabilities just before middle school.

I went to a five-day summer camp that dealt with adoption and kids with
Reactive Attachment Disorder. There I befriended a girl in my cabin
who was Autistic. I helped her do simple things that she would have
not been able to do otherwise. That was the beginning of my volunteer
journey.  In middle school, the special education department
started a program called “Best Buddies.” During my study halls I
volunteered in the special education class and helped students with
fun activities for a few months. I helped them over 28 hours. One
semester I was also a teacher’s aide in a class with some of these
students for 15 weeks. Now I am a junior in high school where I help
in the special education classroom. I take college classes, so it is
harder to find time, but at the beginning of the school year I
managed to help out for about 3 hours a day.  When I wasn’t
able to help there anymore, I started helping one boy in the program
do school work. He also enjoyed taking walks occasionally. I helped
him about 18 hours over a couple months. Since my classes changed, I
have not been able to help him anymore. In March, I started working
with another boy in his class, over 8 hours total. Even though my
time for volunteering is limited, my commitment to helping students
with disabilities has never changed.

I have learned to be grateful for what I have; giving is truly more
amazing than receiving; and how to deal with different types of
teens. My responsibilities throughout these years has been helping
them express themselves and do school work, taking walks, making them
feel valued, and just talking to them like they deserve. My biggest
challenge as a volunteer has definitely been my availability. Between
taking college classes, I have found it difficult to keep my intended
hours of volunteering. But somehow I manage to be a good buddy. The
satisfaction that I have gotten is watching them be happy.

The term “forward looking” to me means a person who is concerned with
the future and has leadership ambitions. I hope that the future
classes of my school district will follow in my footsteps and become
leaders by helping others. The change that I envision is the
realization that people with special needs just want to be treated
equally and want the same thing everybody wants—to be cared for. In
the future, I know my changes will have made a difference. I am
showing others, by helping kids, that we are all equal and we all
want a best buddy who will care for us and show us that we are
amazing people.

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