MLK Weekend with NSCD from My Perspective
by Cece Cole
“This Service Adventure humbled me in seismic ways and I not only learned how to initially ski with these amazing people who happen to have disabilities, but how to be a ‘liver of life.'”
Being a new member on the Youth Advisory board, this was my first Service Adventure with CYL. I was immediately drawn to this specific Service Adventure because of my passion for the outdoors and skiing, and my belief that no matter the circumstances, everyone should be able to share that same joy. This trip gave me a deeper awareness of the blessing of my fully functioning body, and how I want to use it to help those with disabilities to experience the same opportunities I am privileged to have and may, on some days, take for granted.
To be honest, I was completely unaware about what to expect, and just jumped into a SUV at the crack of dawn at a parking lot at the breach of the mountains. Soon, we were all laughing at this one Edward Sharpe song, drinking sugary Starbucks coffee, and watching the sky light up as the sun rose behind us. At this moment, I knew that this service weekend I would never forget.
On the first day I skied with a little girl with down syndrome and was non-verbal. With the instructor, I was teaching her to keep her head up when she skied so she could see where she was going and how to dance in the lift line to make people laugh and smile. After skiing with this beautiful girl, she sat down with me in the equipment room and did my hair. Even though she could not speak, her actions were making me “look like a princess.” Before she left, she gave me the biggest hug and right then and there, it felt like everything inside me was smiling just as big as her smile that day.
On the second day of the trip, I worked with a boy with autism who was also non-verbal, yet was so incredibly excited, it was contagious and you could feel it. He would hum to himself on the lift, smiling, scanning the world with the biggest eyes I have ever seen. Soon the instructor began to hum back and the boy looked at him with a smile, and hummed louder. Before I knew it, we were all humming to a song none of us knew. He never stopped smiling and it was the moment when I helped him ski down the mountain and the instructor told me he was smiling the biggest he had all day, it made me smile bigger, if that’s even possible. He loved looking at the sun and the snow and hated his gloves, and I had never met someone who had the personality of a pure smile.
On the third day I skied with a woman who was paralyzed from the waist down, but who was so determined, it was inspiring. She. kept. going. There is no other way to put it. She called us, “her parents,” the instructors and myself, “her team,” and always kept telling us she was doing great. I learned so, so much about how to be a better me just by being with her.
“This Service Adventure humbled me in seismic ways and I not only learned how to initially ski with these amazing people who happen to have disabilities, but how to be a ‘liver of life.'” These lessons will forever hold great value in my memory and I reflect upon them every day. I feel very much humbled and more well-rounded after volunteering with NSCD and CYL. I definitely grew in character from this experience. This service adventure opened my eyes, and I loved every single second of it. Our group was amazing and I wouldn’t have chosen to adventure with any other people then this “CYL gang.”
Want to see pictures from the weekend? Check out our Facebook page.