Youth Forward Scholarship 2017 – Negative Reputations, and How To Ignore Them

Name: Kassidy Merrick
From: Lexington, Ohio
Grade: 9
School: Lexington High School
Votes: 0

I
suppose the first time I realized I was different was probably the
second grade. I was at a basketball game, and I’d managed to lose my
brother. A police officer who was at the game pulled me aside and
asked for the name of my mother, to try to track her down. When I
gave him the name, he frowned and backed away. In short, I learned at
a very young age that often the weights you bear aren’t even ones you
have caused, and people’s views of you are usually based from the
things that you can’t change. 

In
Lexington, Ohio, is the most boring high school ever. It’s pretty
average, with athletics going nowhere, cliques everywhere, and a
handful of outcasts, including yours truly. My principal noticed that
I lacked any social skills whatsoever, and they needed help in the
Resource Room for all of the kids with disabilities. He put two and
two together, and decided that it would be good for me. He was
completely right. I’ve been volunteering in there since October,
which makes this about seven months. The kids in there are absolutely
wonderful, and not as different from “normal” as many would
conceive. 

At
first, it was hard to get adjusted to the bullying and bantering that
would start after I started going there for an hour each Friday. (Oh
my gosh, Kassidy isn’t a terrible human being that only cares about
her own personal needs? The humanity!) Also, I didn’t think that
those kids in there would be able to understand or do anything with
me. I was dead wrong. Those kids are the sweetest and most funny kids
I have ever met in my life. It’s the smallest things that make their
day, too. I usually only play cards or math games with them, or go
outside or to the gym and pass the ball around with them, but that
means a lot. I think that those kids like being appreciated for what
they are, kids, and not some pity case. 

The
most satisfying thing that I can say that I have gotten from these
past months is seeing those students change and grow. It took them a
little while to get used to me, but now they just tease me and treat
me like a friend, and that’s how I’ve learned to treat them. There’s
this one kid named Matthew in a wheel chair, and he started riding in
a motorized one recently. He crashed into a wall, looked at me, and
said, “I’m still a better driver than you,” which received
a well deserved “Touché,” from me. Realizing that these
kids are just like me has changed me as a person, and helped me
realize that it’s more than our imperfections that define us. 


Now,
I suppose you’re probably saying, “By God, Kassidy, stitch that
on a throw pillow. How did this change you?” All jokes aside,
I’ve been taunted over the years for things I couldn’t help. I can’t
change the fact my mom has been to jail. I can’t stop the fact that I
got taken away from my birth mom. People are fast to assume someone
from just what they’ve experienced, and I’m guilty of this as well.
In short, these kids have taught me that it doesn’t really matter
what you have to deal with or where you’ve been. What matters is how
you are going to change it. What matters is how you respond. I am not
my past, and these kids are not their diagnoses. We as people are who
we decide to be, not the things we cannot help. 


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