This I Believe

Sarah - Lake Forest, Illinois
Entered on September 28, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

This I Believe

I believe in what The Beatles once sang, that “it’s allright”, and that working through life’s challenges will ultimately help me become the person I want to be, a person who travels with the flow and enjoys every minute of it.

For the past two years of high school, I have been truly privileged to be a teaching assistant in Integrated Wellness, where peers similar to me partner with “buddies” who have physical and/or mental challenges. In class, we meet each day to complete activities adapted to the physical limitations of certain classmates. At the end of junior year, we organized an Ice Cream Social as part of the class to sign one another’s yearbooks and celebrate our graduating seniors. My buddy was Eric, and we served as the entertainment, belting out our favorite Beatles’ songs, in tune- of course.

Each day in class brings a different surprise and a new challenge. Peers work through challenges that may arise with very little help from our teacher, and in order to do so, we acquire a strong sense of self and the confidence to independently work through obstacles. One of the largest challenges I have faced involving my buddy, Eric, was his fear of being ridiculed during basketball season.

As our first match approached, Eric’s talented handling of the ball seemed to be traveling in the opposite direction (pun intended). Soon, Eric refused to participate. I assured Eric that he would add strength to the team and that our team needed its strongest shooter on the court. And before Eric could refute my statement, I started chanting, “You can do this!” Although I hadn’t planned it, I was surprised by how well my confidence booster seemed to work. Not only did Eric’s face erupt into an enormous smile, one as bright as the gym lights and as joyful as the Trick-or-Treaters of his favorite holiday, but he started shouting “Yes I CAN!” as he bounced his ball around the court. The chant was contagious- soon the entire class was cheering him on as he practiced his shots. We beat our rival in the game that week thanks to Eric’s five baskets. And like our entertaining rendition of The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” weeks before at our Ice Cream Social, “Yes I CAN!” seemed to echo endlessly during the game, haunting us just as “sun sun sun, here it comes” did during our song.

Integrated Wellness is an experience that has etched itself in my mind, not only because of the friendships I’ve made, but also because of the impact that it has had on the way I approach the act of living. I have achieved a greater level of self-confidence and independence, and I can’t help but notice how working through the challenges of pushing a wheelchair or gaining the trust of a friend during a game has let me grow into the person I hope to become as I reach adulthood.

A daily challenge in the form of a new class, a new scene to block at play practice, or a new friend used to overwhelm me. I never thought I’d be able to successfully navigate the challenges of adolescence and come out all in one piece. But, as Harrison’s sunny hit proclaims, “it’s allright”. Integrated Wellness has taught me to trust my abilities, and that with confidence I can get through any challenging situation.

And so, for the challenges, for those things that have helped me realize my abilities, and for those events that have helped me grow into the Sarah hope to be, I am eternally grateful.