“Everyone needs to be valued. Everyone has the potential to give something back if only they had the chance.”
These words were spoken by Princess Diana in 1995 and certainly they continue to be true today. This month our daughter Danielle participated in her school’s “Senior Service Day.” It is a day when the high school senior class goes to various places within the town to help out in some way. Our daughter has autism and she is usually the recipient of someone else’s help, not the giver of help herself. Senior Service Day was a special experience for Danielle. She and her classmates volunteered at our town’s historical society by providing outdoor spring cleanup. The school staff told us, “Danielle was just so happy the entire time.” This made us think of the words spoken by Princess Diana. We believe that Danielle was happy because she felt good about her ability to help, her ability to give something back to others.
Danielle’s autism presents a challenge to find activities that she can do to be of service. She needs visual cues and prompting to complete any task. We are constantly on the lookout for opportunities for her. Just last week she was able to donate a few pairs of her eyeglasses that she no longer needed to an organization that runs an eyeglass drive. She has donated items like soccer cleats, books, and stuffed animals at other times. She has even donated her long, beautiful hair to organizations that make wigs for people who need them. These and similar ideas can be used for Confirmation service requirements. This is especially so for confirmandi with special needs who might need their service to be slightly modified.
St. Francis of Assisi once said, “It is in giving that we receive.” Danielle and her classmates received happiness and joy by giving to others. It’s important that we support people with special needs by providing them real opportunities to develop compassion for others and to serve the community.
Copyright 2018 Dave and Mercedes Rizzo