Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – Much Ado About Special Needs

Name: Alissa Edgington
From: Schertz, Texas
Grade: 11
School: Edgington Home School
Votes: 1609

Volunteering at The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland has greatly affected my outlook on
teaching, the special needs community, and ultimately what I wish to
pursue in life by opening my eyes to the joy of using performing arts
to encourage special needs individuals to grow strong in themselves.

I have the unique privilege to work at this school for special needs
students at the world’s first theme park that is completely
accessible to and enjoyable for individuals both with and without
special needs. I chose this field because I saw potential in them
that most fail to see. While many avoid these individuals out of
ignorance or fear, I was drawn to them, wanting to improve their
quality of life and how the world views them.

I began work in August of 2015 and have been loving it ever since.
Attending every Friday, I am typically there for about six hours.
I’ve participated in many events: face painting, dancing, and
helping with fashion and talent shows. My
responsibilities vary, but a typical day includes running errands,
classroom setup, and occasionally working exercises with small
groups. For special events, I have choreographed, taught and
performed dance routines, helped with costumes, and handed out props.

My favorite part of working at The Academy
is seeing the growth in the students as a result of everyone’s
perseverance. I love seeing the shy students alive with energy
while playing music or dancing. I enjoy hearing the
vocally-challenged speaking with more clarity and annunciation. I am
especially proud when witnessing and hearing about their
breakthroughs, knowing that I am a part of the team making those

By teaching the upcoming generations of special needs individuals and
making them confident in themselves through the performing arts
curricula, I want to continue to break the trend of society putting
limits on their abilities. I want to make students ready to take on
the world and be whatever they set their minds to because they have
been immersed in success and not focused on failures. I want to see
them prepared and integrated into the workforce, riding busses, and
finding independence where they can in the world around them. I also
want to learn more about them to help educate others about the
realities of what a special needs individual really is from the
inside out.

Years in the future, when I look back at my time there, I will remember
encouraging students to create happy memories for themselves. I will
remember every time someone accomplished a feat with which they once
struggled. l will remember the excitement of helping them push past
their walls and encouraging them to achieve their true potential.
Finally, I will remember how they made me a better person. Someone
who took a desire to be center stage that was transformed by a
greater desire to place someone often overlooked in that spotlight
and smiling from behind the curtain with a greater sense of purpose
than I ever imagined.

Join our Facebook group "Volunteers for a Better World".