Overcoming developmental disabilities


Editor’s note: The Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities held an essay contest about inclusion in recognition of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. The top three winners were recognized by the board. The first place winner received a $100 gift card; second place, $50 gift card; and third place, $25 gift card. The second place winner was Norah Houts, a student at Sidney High School.

By Norah Houts

As the community keeps developing we are seeing more opportunities for people with developmental disabilities. The number of jobs offered is astonishing, making sure everyone is being included. This is an amazing thing for our community to endure showing that differences do not separate us from coming together.

Sidney High School where I attend incorporates our students with developmental disabilities all over the school. Students are able to do tasks around the school helping everyone out. I see the same girl every week in the library wiping down all the tables for our librarian to make sure they are in tip top shape for everyone going in there to study or read. Passing papers around to the teachers so they do not have to leave the classroom and go to the office always puts a smile on their faces and the teachers. I have realized how much happier their moods are when we all get to interact with one another and have conversations even if it is just a simple “How are you doing today?”

I work at Shelby Skilled Nursing where I was privileged to watch the growth and take care of one of my classmates. His name is Zachariah and he is the sweetest soul I have ever met. I like to believe that it made his stay there much easier knowing for years as we go to school together. Personally, I love having him feel included in the activities we held throughout our days at work. My favorite to do with him was push himself to walk and get better. His favorite thing to eat was pizza which his grandmother always brought him on the days that were the best and even during the hard times of pain. He loved watching all kinds of You Tube videos on his phone and I even showed him how to work some of the apps on his phone. We both taught each other things in life. He taught me how to be patient, learn others’ thinking, and be a better caregiver. I taught him how to push himself everyday. He taught me more than I ever taught him.

I believe because I learned new ways to care for someone with mental disabilities and how to make them feel most comfortable at the hardest times. He was my support for when I was struggling throughout my work day because we are around the same age and could just relate on many things, along with many

laughs …. sometimes many cries too. Needless to say we had many fun times doing little activities together and enjoyed each other’s company.

During the day at school the MD class has held activities and fun little parties. I volunteered at one of the dance parties they had. I love how our school allows them to participate in all the things around our school. They had the best time listening to music and eating snacks. All their faces were lit up with joy and excitement as the balloons were flying everywhere. Also, we had the joy of having Jack who graduated last year. He was always giving everyone high fives in the hallway. He was a ray of sunshine at Sidney High. For the future I would love for them to be included in more classroom activities.

Lastly, I just want to say how thankful I am to have met all the people in my life with developmental disabilities. It makes you realize how wonderful everyone is in this world. I believe we all need to set our differences aside and just love everyone.

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