One of the first to arrive at the party was Connie, Becky and James. Connie had something on her mind and made it known upon arrival with repetitive vocalizations, eventually settling down once she got to the Valentine crafts table. Becky came in seemingly disinterested about being there. Her body language, her demeanor demonstrated a lack of care for anything really, and my heart saddened a bit. The young gals who were at this table were trying to engage both ladies without much success. Connie and Becky were a tough audience, but the young ladies persevered, going about the business of making V-day cards for Connie and Becky. Suddenly, Connie decides she’s bored and takes her leave from the table, backing her electric wheelchair away to make her way across the room. One of the startled Youth Leaders asked if she should be leaving. I smiled as I watched Connie “make dust” halfway to her destination; I chuckled and told them it looked like that decision had already been made and executed.
Connie made her way to a game table at which a few AYL students were playing a game called Trouble which has a “pop-o-matic” dome. A dye is enclosed in the dome situated on a spring; to roll the dye, you push down on the dome and the dye pops for a new roll. The students invited Connie to join them but rather than letting her push the dome herself, someone was popping it for Connie. I quietly whispered in one student’s ear to give the board to Connie so she could pop it herself, suggesting they may need to help her. They positioned the game on her wheelchair tray and after a few tries Connie got it and the dye rolled. They let Connie do as much as she could from there on out.
James was sitting at the Valentine craft table, at times with a boyish grin on his face as the young ladies helped him with his card. He really wasn’t that interested in the making of it, but he liked watching them, and um, the attention they were giving him.
Becky who started at a Valentine crafts table ended up at the same gaming table Connie joined. She had that same disinterested look about her as the gals played Trouble. I went about my business of taking pictures. Upon return to their table, I was amazed to see Becky was popping the dye dome on their game. They got her involved! She was struggling with the task but one of the young ladies helped her positioned it so Becky could get a better push on it. Later on, I was amazed to see Becky actually working on a Valentine with a marker in hand drawing on a heart-shaped cutout. I don’t know what changed; who knows and who cares! I was thrilled that she was more involved with the activity.
Connie was on the move again, this time heading back to the table where she first started. Either she wasn’t paying attention or being mischievous, because she powered her wheelchair into the back of an AYL students’ chair, which forced her into the table. As a result, that forced the table into those students sitting on the opposite side. The student starting laughing, trapped and unable to do anything as Connie continued to press forward into her chair. I stood there unsure what to do either, until a Direct Support Provider came to the rescue to help Connie back out of the pickle she’d gotten into. We all chuckled over the scenario as Connie, un-phased and unimpressed by it all, continued on her merry way in a different direction.
The nervousness felt earlier in the Young Building had dramatically shifted to one of joy and fun. The young AYL students were all smiles and laughter as they interacted with their party guests. Many WFC guests were making Valentine’s Day cards, playing games, or having conversations with their hosts. I left feeling rejuvenated from the “feel good” energy of human/heart connections between these young students and their new friends.
Wendell Foster’s Campus appreciates the Academy for Young Leaders for their time and energy to have some fun with our WFC peeps. They’ve come back twice to spend time with our Campus Peeps. It’s heartwarming to see young people breaking through historically-placed barriers to simply “be” with others who face unique challenges but still enjoy the same things they enjoy such as making crafts, playing games, and having fun.
In the Next Blog Entry: "Your People" - “. . . after a gentle lecture about the outdated term, my dad now says, “I saw your people at the mall today.” God love him, that’s progress for him . . . ”
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