Volunteer: Disability and Pierce County Essay

Submitted By Shmajo
Words: 676
Pages: 3

I began volunteering early in high school with an organization called the Pierce County Coalition for Developmental Disabilities or PC2. They are a parent-driven, non-profit organization that provides information and support for families and individuals with intellectual disabilities in Pierce County. The story of how I came to know of the organization is one that I like to share with individuals I meet who are hesitant of working with people with disabilities.
I was dating a boy name Kyle my freshman year of high school. Kyle asked if I would like to accompany him to a dance, and of course I said yes! What I was not prepared for or informed of was that this was not like a “typical” high school dance. Yes, there was music, lights, a dance floor and refreshments but there was something else. Something that now wouldn’t cross my mind as different but 15 years ago did. Disability. Such a nasty word, if you ask me. The dance was for students of local high schools who had been labeled as differently-abled and anyone else who wanted to attend. There were some obvious ground rules about language that was off limits and the type of dancing that was inappropriate but the main rule: HAVE FUN!
I hung back, not sure if this was my scene or if I could really allow myself to let loose. Kyle jumped right in and started dancing with Rusty, a vivacious young man who needed reminding that hip thrusts were inappropriate dance moves. I was approached by Neil who towered over everyone in attendance and he wanted to swing dance with me. I had no idea how to swing dance but I thought to myself that the Baha Men’s “Who Let the Dogs Out” was an unusual song to swing dance to. I reluctantly said yes and from that moment on I’ve never been the same. My wall of fear and uncertainty had vanished by the end of the song and I realized that there were no differences within these gym walls, only similarities.
Through my time at PC2 I have attended legislative meetings on a number of topics concerning self-advocacy and individuals with intellectual disabilities and have also made connections and friendships that are more authentic and enduring than I ever imagined. I was nominated in the winter of 2011 to be a part of the Pierce County Leadership Council that tackles projects to better the community in which we live by spreading awareness and acceptance. All of these have been an honor and paired me with individuals I would not have met otherwise. The time I put