Advocates for those less fortunate than us are considered icons in our society. The late Eunice Kennedy Shriver is a model of a champion for the less fortunate. Inspired by the mental challenges of a sibling, she founded and created a whole new world in the 1960's for individuals now involved in the Special Olympics.
I got to thinking about this recently.
Who am I an advocate for?
Earlier that same day, I ran into one of my students in the ocean while I was on vacation. This 17-year-old teenager was so glad to see me that he leaped over and hugged me. After introducing me to his family he told them that I was the most caring, influential and helpful person in the whole school. As a School Nurse, this meant a lot to me.
I was the only one he perceived to care about him and what happens to him. He was on the verge of dropping out of high school. After astutely picking up a potential health related problem that significantly impacted his education, I referred him and his mother to a Neurologist. He and his mother were relieved to know that there was "a reason" why his grades were falling and he was having difficulty in school.
He was advised to get his GED.
Standing in the water at the beach I had a conversation with him that I hope will change his life forever. He made a decision to come back to high school and finish his education. Although he is a smart student, his challenges drew him away from being the model high school student and completing the curriculum. Cynical staff members wrote him off as being "lazy" and a problem student.
I believed in him.
Standing on the beach with my cell phone in hand, I placed a phone call to the principal of the high school on his behalf. There was only three weeks left in the summer before school starts. The time to act and put the wheels in motion was NOW.
He hugged me so many times to thank me for helping him and believing in him.
I was glowing. I was his champion and advocate.
Advocacy for our youth and challenged individuals comes in all shapes, sizes and packages. We don't have to be in the Kennedy family to make and create change. Creating an opening for people and going the extra mile is a ripple in the steam of life that will continue on into infinity. Lives will be changed FOREVER. So let me as you, "Who are you being an advocate for?