Thoughts from Gen Z: Giving You Something to Think ‘Bout…

Giving you something to think ‘bout…

Majallen Cespedes (AKA Jelly)

Hey guys! It’s Jelly! I feel like we haven’t talked in a long time!  But here I am, new and improved as they say, giving you something to think about.

During the time we have been apart, I truly believe that I’ve changed GREATLY as a person. My outlook on life, my level of maturity, my relationship with God, my way of thinking, how I handle stressful situations, pretty much everything, has changed for the better. Also, in my newfound maturity, I’ve come to realize that you will never succeed, be great, or receive any blessings when you look down on others, especially those with limitations or special needs. Everyone is equal regardless of their outward appearance or perceived limitations, but kids can be cruel, and if you are one such kid, I hope this article gives you something to think about, and hopefully change your outlook on those with differences.

In this article I will be sharing my experience as a LINK. A LINK is a student who spends time with other students with disabilities to support their classroom integration by being a tutor, academic coach, role model, and friend. I find it interesting that, as a LINK, the benefit of my position was supposed to be primarily for the student with a disability, when in fact I found this experience so rewarding that I too was the one to benefit!

I have been involved in the LINK program since the 6th grade. I’ve wholeheartedly enjoyed my experience and I truthfully love helping others, not only as a LINK but as a friend. Being a LINK has completely changed my outlook on people with disabilities. They are beautiful human beings and are no different from you and I, they just simply have a different way of doing things we consider “normal.” Everyone has their own definition of the word “normal” and we throw the word around like it has an exact definition which is relatable in all circumstances, but it doesn’t and it isn’t. This 6-letter word should not define anyone. I have been lucky enough to have many rewarding experiences during my interactions with Patrick, my LINK student. One thing that I’ve noticed is passion for Bill Nye, the Science Guy. I believe it’s a beautiful thing to see the look on one’s face when they’re talking about the things that they love. Another rewarding experience is seeing Patrick’s growing initiative and effort while doing his work. Patrick loves to ask his Earth Science teacher questions. Whenever he doesn’t understand or wants further clarification, he asks questions. This has made me feel comfortable to do the same when I need help, something that I would have never become comfortable to do without Patrick. I love to see that he cares about the material and that he isn’t simply there just because he has to be.

With all of the great joys of being a LINK, there are most definitely some rough patches. Sometimes it can be frustrating while working with Patrick because he can be very distant at times and a bit uncooperative. But as time has progressed, we’ve worked on these things and have made great improvements. I do my best to stay patient and try to make the learning experience as comfortable and smooth as possible and remind Patrick that although this may seem like a lot of work, it’ll be worth it when he graduates (one of Patrick’s favorite lines is “So… I have to do this or I won’t graduate?”)

Being a LINK has definitely altered the way I see people with disabilities. I’ve learned to never judge something that you have no understanding of and that being a LINK isn’t just about making school work easier, it’s about making life easier. I’ve learned about being a true friend and a shoulder to lean on. During my short time in high school, I’ve noticed that people judge other people without knowing what it’s like to live their life, or to go through and experience the things that they do. There’s so much more to a person than what you see on the outside. Not excluding myself because I’m guilty of being quick to judge others too, but this is something that needs to stop. We are privileged and blessed to live the lives that we live, but it all could be snatched away in a heartbeat. So enjoy others’ company, appreciate them, and make them feel like the beautiful, equal, and blessed individuals that they are because if it were you, you would want to be treated the same.

Just something to Think ‘Bout!

FFJ!