Throughout our lives, we experience these “light bulb” moments that enlighten us in ways that we could never purposefully encounter. These moments can stem from a conversation, an interaction, or simply out of thin air. They can teach us something about others, open our eyes to new possibilities, and allow us to see beyond what simply meets the eye. The sheer number of “light bulb” moments that I have experienced while working with Extend-A-Family is a testament to the amount of possible learning, and potentially life changing, moments available through our work.
A specific “light bulb” moment that I’ve retold countless times occurred last summer during a swimming trip with Summer Program. A non-verbal individual who was typically the first to jump into the pool was very hesitant for reasons not yet known. Through continued conversations with the participant, I could see that he really wanted to swim and he continued to make it way to the side of the pool, yet something was hold him back from taking the plunge. After a few minutes of exhausting all possible reasons for the hesitations, I was beginning to feel defeated; I knew that there was something wrong, but I was unable to figure it out.
In that moment of deflation, the participant lightly pushed his head against mine and stared me in the eyes. VOILA! The participant showed me through his actions the reason for his hesitation. He had forgotten to put on his headband that protects his ears from the water, something that he wears every time we go swimming. It wasn’t until he placed his head against mine that the “light bulb” flicked on.
To this day, I still get chills thinking about how this individual was able to communicate to me his needs to me in his own unique way. This moment taught me that there is a solution to every problem just waiting to be revealed. Working with the Summer Program also opened my eyes to the sheer amount of different ability levels that everyone has, including both participants and our staff. Summer Program has truly opened my eyes to the fact that we are all able in our own special way.