This I Believe

Christina - Hatboro, Pennsylvania
Entered on April 22, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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Life to the Fullest

I believe life needs to be fun and lived to the fullest. I am one of three children, with an older brother and a younger sister who is mentally challenged. She has Fragile X syndrome, which is a form of mental retardation. Most people don’t know or understand this form of mental retardation. It is the most common form of hereditary mental retardation, affecting mostly males and sometimes females.

My sister loves being on a team and participating in sports. She had competed in gymnastics on a YMCA team for about four years. She saw her friends on the team, as well as me, winning medals at the meets and improving while she stayed at a level 4 and only on occasion was awarded a medal. The fact that she could no longer be competitive in “main stream” gymnastics really affected her spirit. This is when I talked to my mom, and we decided that we would try to get her involved with Special Olympics gymnastics. We got a group of volunteers together; my mother, the head gymnastics coach at YMCA, a parent of a child with Down syndrome and me to start a Special Olympics gymnastics team in Montgomery County, PA. When this all started, I was fourteen or fifteen years old. I had to attend many meetings and practices to learn how to coach and teach the children. It was very satisfying after I completed my training and was then able to coach the kids. The smiles I saw on faces of the Special Olympics athletes along with their parents saying how much the kids loved it gives you such a feeling of joy.

I wish there were more people in the world that cared about children with special needs, rather than just the parents and families that have children with special needs. This is a big part of my life and will be for years and years to come. Becoming a special education teacher will help me understand my life better and feel great about myself by helping others who are in need. My passion is to help children with special needs learn to have fun in life.

Over all, I believe that life should be lived to the fullest, whether you have a disability or not. Nothing in the world should ever stop you. You need to do what you love doing and having fun with your life. Helping my sister out is more than a nice thing to do; it is what I love to do. By becoming involved I have helped many other children with special needs have a fun, fulfilling life.