LiveUp Philly starts in JUST 2 DAYS! To get everyone pumped, Michelle is sharing her experiences volunteering with the program. Take it away Michelle…
I constantly think about how being a part of the LiveUp Programs community has positively affected my life. My first experience working with the Down syndrome community was 4 years ago when I attended Camp PALS. As a special education major I thought that it would be a great way for me to help people. What I discovered, however, was that this group of people helped me more than I ever could have helped them.
Through PALS and now LiveUp programs I have become a more compassionate person. I recognize the importance of equality and independence for the Down syndrome community that I never have before. I thought that I was just going to a program to help people go throughout their day but what really happened is we learned together. I have become much more patient. I always lived life in the fast lane, but I now realize that is worth nothing without stopping to smell the roses once and a while.
I have made some of the greatest friends of my life and have positively changed as a person. Through LiveUp my participant and I have learned so much more about being independent adults. My participant Lauren started as my camper at PALS and I am so excited to have shared the experiences I have with her. She messages me almost daily on Facebook. Just knowing that I have this unconditional friendship is incredible. Being a part of both weekends has given me the opportunity to spend time with different participants as well. I hope the friendships I’ve made will last a lifetime!
I am a very family oriented person. Every Memorial day and Labor day my family goes on camping trips. Due to the experiences I’ve had with LiveUp I am no longer able to go on these trips with them. At first it was very upsetting to me, but I have found my place in this very special LiveUp family. I love spending the weekend with all of the very special people that attend and truly see them as part of my family. I look forward to the weekend almost as much as the participants do…. which is a lot!
I am so thankful that I have had the opportunities I have had with this program and cannot wait to see how much it grows. I know that I am a better person because of this program and am sure others would say the same thing.