Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – Finding Joy in the Small Things

Name: Catherine Bailey
From: Youngsville, North Carolina
Grade: 11th
School: Franklinton High School
Votes: 0

I have been around people with disabilities my entire life. My God
sister has autism, and from a young age, I have seen both the
struggles of her and her family and they joy they find in the small
things. I developed a passion for working with disabled children,
which lead me to want to pursue a career in genetics so that I could
research genetic disorders and help those affected by them, bringing
together my love of science and my passion for helping people with

In 2010, my dance studio started Miracles in Motion, a dance program for
children with disabilities in which they would be partnered with a
“Big Sister” who would work one-on-one with them. I was eager to
join the program as a Big Sister, and I have been a part of the
program ever since. Currently I have three partners between two
forty-five minute long classes: a “Little Sister” with autism who
I have worked with for a year and two “Little Brothers”, both
autistic, whom I have worked with for six and four years

As a Big Sister, I am responsible for making sure the kids are having
fun and learning, but also for their safety. Some of the kids are
prone to outbursts of frustration and aggression. This is the most
challenging aspect of working with children who cannot communicate
well- learning their individual triggers and knowing when it’s okay
to push them and when to back off. I have learned to be very patient
and tolerant, but also to be tough when necessary. Most importantly,
I have learned to find joy in small accomplishments just like my God
sister’s family. This year, the little brother I’ve worked with
for six years started talking more. My little sister almost knows her
dance on her own. Even if I have been scratched, hit, bitten, and
yelled at by these kids, I love them all unconditionally, because
there is nothing better than seeing the smiles on their faces when
they finally understand something or when I walk in the door and my
partner jumps up to hug me.

Dance class is a time for the kids to be just like any other kid, and it
does wonders for their confidence in themselves. I hope that I have
helped these kids to see that they can do anything regardless of
their disability. The world is a rapidly changing place, and there
are more opportunities out there for people with disabilities, but
unfortunately, there are still people out there with negative views
of people with disabilities. I hope that by working with disabled
children, I can help them show the world that they can do anything
they put their mind to. To me, that is what it means to be forward
looking- promoting a positive change in the world so that the future
can be a brighter place for everyone, not just those we label

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