My goal for this service project was to make it fun and show our children that these kids and adults are just like us in many respects. They like to have fun and have feelings too. They can play, sing, dance, run, compete in sports, cry, laugh...just like us. They just sometimes look, sound, and act it out differently...and sometimes not so differently!
Our job at this event was super simple. Show up, have fun, and be a cheerleader. We were there to support the athletes and make them feel strong, special, and equally as exciting as any other athlete out there. It was the perfect job for the kids because it allowed them to sit and "stare" at these kids from afar and observe and absorb the differences without being offensive or rude. It allowed us time to talk as a family about why it might be hard to be accepting of someone who is different, what about it makes us uncomfortable or afraid, and what we could try to do to get over that and honor God and His design for these individuals. The questions and comments that the kids came up with while we were doing this were so intuitive and innocent. I loved it. I could tell they were really thinking and processing a lot. They were also rewarded with many waves and huge smiles from the competing kids as they heard and saw them cheering them on. It was so precious.
I think the kids gained a lot from this evening. Some of them still had a hard time getting close but I know it will take practice, time, and continued support from us as parents to keep them involved in the process. They all enjoyed the atmosphere, being rewarded with smiles and waves of appreciation from the athletes, and to me, the conversations were priceless. I showed the kids my pictures this morning and they were excited to see themselves in action. I think Cameron summed it up quite nicely for all of us...
"I guess, in reality, there really isn't a whole lot of difference."
|Special Olympic Athlete...|
“Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.”