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Friday, August 22, 2008

Sharing Simcha -- Part I

My mind was a fuzzy blank as I headed towards my first learning group in Simcha Special. It had seemed so simple when the smiling shiur head recruited me last night... but then I saw the topic and materials: Today's shiur was all about being happy with what you have.

I, a fortunate, healthy JAP, had always looked towards people like my new charges to remind myself that things could always be worse. How would I now address twenty adolescents, most of whom could not walk, eat, or even breathe without technological assistance, and make them feel lucky? I wanted to crawl into a hole and cry for all the pain contained within that one small room.
Feelings aside, it was time for shiur. I introduced myself and opened the discussion with a question: What makes you happy?

As the first few hands began to wave in the air, I nervously wondered what the replies might be. So many of the things a typical adolescent might answer were completely out of reach to these kids: funky shoes, pizza, and even, for some, friends.

My predictions turned out to be completely off-base as one girl after another offered:
"Coming to Camp Simcha Special makes me happy."
"I feel happy when my counselor calls me."
"Looking at my pictures from camp."
"Getting together with my bunkmates during the year."
"The pool!" (a place usually off-limits, as I may or may not explain in the future)
Others continued in this vein, with just a few deviations.

Never has it been clearer to me how Camp Simcha Special is truly a ray of sunshine when life seems so bleak. If this is one of the only things that makes these suffering kids happy, it is vital that we do everything in our power to help make it possible.

Support Camp Simcha and Camp Simcha Special by sponsoring me in the ING Miami Marathon.


rickismom said...

As the mother of a 13 year old girl with Down syndrome (I am "frum" and live in Israel), I can onnly say: My daughter is an INDIVIDUAL and amazes me again and again with the things she sees, notices, and understands. Look at the child, not the label... don't define what they do/think/ by the label! Good of you to give your time to a good cause!

Bas~Melech said...

Hi Rickismom! Just wanted to say welcome -- I haven't seen you around before. Thanks for visiting and commenting. And I totally agree about the labeling problem -- there is so much for everyone to gain by looking past it.