Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2016 – Special Gifts

Name: Emily Calvert
From: Spotsylvania, Virginia
Grade: High School Senior
School: Calvert High School
Votes: 0

Special Gifts

When focusing on the negative, people forget that love multiples faster than hatred ever could. I don’t believe voluntarism “fixes” problems in our communities. Voluntarism touches lives. You cannot eradicate poverty, but you can help lift an individual out of the cycle of poverty.

Voluntarism has always been a part of my life. Ever since I became a Girl Scout at five years old, I have done my best to be an active, positive influence in my community. But, I learned the most about myself volunteering with special needs children. At 11, I was diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism. After that, my diagnoses evolved and were inconsistent. I had a conglomerate of symptoms and struggled to find my identity. Eventually, one of my volunteer jobs was working with
special needs children. After my first experience, I began to volunteer more with the organization. As I saw bits of me in the
children I worked with, I eventually grew to appreciate how special I was and be content with myself.

On average, I have volunteered for 4-5 hours a week with various causes since I was ten years old. However, the experience I mentioned above was as a camp counselor for Sensory + Theater = Endless Possibilities of Virginia. For four years, every summer I would spend two weeks as a shadow for children with all sorts of disabilities. I would encourage them to participate in the program, assist in behavioral intervention, and accommodate the program to their needs. Being able to empathize with the children was an obstacle that took a strong work ethic to overcome. Since I had similar difficulties, I had to make sure that my sensitivities to their emotions did not prevent me from carrying out my tasks. It was exhausting, and I often found myself wanting to breakdown with them. However, every day that I completed successfully made me tackle the next with renewed vigor and desire to encourage my children to complete the tasks set before them. The camp was a theater camp. Every day we prepared the children for a production at the end of the week. Watching them overcome their emotional struggles and preform on stage were some of the most rewarding days of my year.

Through my commitment to service, I realized my aptitude for Emergency Medical Services. I currently have my EMT-B and am working towards becoming a paramedic. In addition, I am currently in the application process for my local volunteer rescue squad. Saving others as a career, for me, is self-actualization. The change I hope to foster is from being
understanding to patients in all situations and helping them regardless. Years from now, my only hope is that I emulate that
kindness that others have shown me and that I can see where it has multiplied. Those children showed me that you can have a good attitude in any scenario, and that attitude is infectious. As a paramedic, I wish to infect patients with loving-kindness.

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