I just realized it's been for-ev-ver since I last posted..my bad! (props to whoever got the Sandlot reference in the previous sentence and said forever correctly!) I have been insanely busy in Aurora, Illinois working on my internship, and now with only 3.5 days left (WHAT?!?) I should probably let you know what I did!
As I'm pretty sure I mentioned in a previous post my responsibilities included conducting assessments, working with the Inclusion team (the team that places skilled individuals to work with the kids who want to participate in general programming in their home park district), planning and leading programs, assisting with special events and other programs and most recently, volunteering with the Lose the Training Wheels program.
Lose the Training Wheels is a non-profit based out of Pennsylvania that travels the country hosting a Monday-Friday bike camp that teaches kids with special needs how to ride their bikes without training wheels. This was without a doubt the most incredible week of my internship. The program used adapted bikes with rollers instead of a back tire that help the kids build leg strength and also work on their balance. As they improved, the rollers were changed out and became skinnier and skinnier until they were the width of a normal bike tire. When they mastered that, the kids were put on bike with two wheels and off they went! I was amazed at how fast they would pick it up. We had some kids riding completely independently on Wednesday. Some of these kids' parents were told that their child would never have the motor skills and or the ability to ride a two wheeled bike. Almost all if these kids were the ones who mastered it.
We were all partnered up with a rider and responsible for helping them learn to ride. It was awesome to see your kid start out the week all wibbly-wobbly and so hesitant on turns, and then watching them gain the confidence to ride a bit faster, and then a bit more. They got better and better to the point where you're sprinting after them telling them to slow down and not take the turn at 40 miles an hour. But then, the magic moment would come. The bike guys would bring out that glorious two wheeler. Your rider would look at it with huge eyes, bursting with nervous excitement. They looked at you and then for their parents who looked back with the same emotion filled eyes as their kids. We would park their bike and the camp leader would take them on those first few runs on two wheels. It was so awesome to see their faces on those first few runs. Some had smiles that threatened to crack their cheeks, some had a look of absolute concentration. Their parents were usually speechless, tears streaming down their new pride filled faces, recording every wonderful minute.
The best part was then after they were off the two wheeled bike for the first time. Everyone had been cheering their name, hooting, hollering and clapping for them. They are pulled to a stop, get off on shaky legs and dive into a waiting mom or dads arms. My favorite was a little guy who was nine years old and quite reserved. He rode his roller bike around the track quietly, focused and working hard. He was one of the first to be offered the two wheeler. The bike guys called his name and he walked over looking even more serious and got on. His mom was completely still, gave her camera to the mom next to her and white-knuckeled her chair. Little Man was up, they ran/rode together for the first few runs but then the camp director took his hand off of the handle, he was riding completely independently for a good 20 yards! They turned around and this time went about 40 yards. He was a natural! The director told him to hop off and get some water but as soon as his feet hit the ground his solemn little face erupted into the biggest, brightest, proudest smile and he ran straight to his mom who was bawling her eyes out. That smile and the hug that followed brought almost every volunteer to tears. He was so proud! He finally accomplished something he had always wanted to do. It was beautiful. When he finally let go and ran right back to that bike, he didn't stop riding for the rest of the week. He proved we are not disabled because of our disabilities. We are able because of our abilities.
On another, less heart warming note my internship is ending in 4 short days. Even though I don't plan on staying in community recreation, I am still completely thrilled I got this internship. I learned so much about te fundamentals of Therapeutic Recreation and the process that it follows. I was given the opportunity to plan a lead a variety of programs and do a rainforest worth of paperwork. It was all so worth the exhausting schedule and overwhelming days in the office till 10. This Thursday I will drive back HOME to IOWA and present my experience to the LYHS underclassmen and turn in a paper (a paper that inspired this blog post. Love procrastination) and be officially done with college! I still plan on attending grad school and hopefully reforming the human services field but I will wait until the thought of sitting through classes doesn't give me an instant headache. So, after the poster presentation I will enjoy the luxury of being at home for about a week. I am SO excited for this. I have really missed being in familiar surroundings and seeing the faces that I love the most. While I am not ready to come home permanently, this past 6 months away have definitely made me cherish my home time more than ever. While I've been in Aurora, I've been actually very reserved and focused on my internship. Weird right? I've even started running because it helps me sort out intern problems and figure stuff out. I'm looking forward to being myself again!
After my week at home I am so very excited to move to Nashville,Tennessee! One of my friends from camp got into an amazing graduate program at Vanderbilt University and while visiting me in Chicago, she asked me and another awesome friend of we wanted to move down with her. I am SO happy that it worked out and that I have the opportunity to go! I have committed to a year in which time I will be working my butt off and while having a great freaking time, will be saving money to put into those accounts named India and Camp :) I wish I could tell you the name of said job but as of right now, I don't have one. I would love to explore a couple other facets of TR before I choose a full time job but I am trusting that that will all fall into place as it is supposed to. I'm not worried.
As some of you know, I have been battling some health issues. Last March I had some sort of allergic reaction that caused my ear canals to swell shut causing vertigo. Well, that vertigo never went away and brought along with it pretty extreme fatigue and some vision issues. This along with some other symptoms had me seeing doctor after ENT specialist after neurologist, who all told me I just had some funky virus that would basically come and go for he rest of my life. We wanted to rule out whatever we could so I got tested for Lymes Disease. Turns out, I've got it. I only remember being bit by a tick on my ear in 4th or 5th grade but considering I spent the better part of last year running around in the woods at Camp, who knows when I got it. Anyway, I'll see some doctors hopefully soon, get on some antibiotics for a few months and be good to go forever! After all this time, I am just praising God that we have a name for what is going on and a plan of attack!
All in all, I can't complain. I've been granted 22 years in this world and they have been pretty great. From the experiences I've had as I transition into real life adulthood, I can only imagine what the next 22 will bring. I wish I could say I have a plan but I think we all know that's not true. Plus, it wouldn't be anywhere as great as the plan that is already there for me.