I was browsing though the website of my hometown newspaper today, and I came across a series of multimedia pages about a place I love, yet think of much less often than I ought. The name of the place is called The Hope Institute for Children and Families. Although, to residents of Springfield it is called The Hope School. The Hope School is a place for children with multiple physical and mental disabilities to live and learn. It is a residential school. It is a place full of struggle, frustration, and confusion. But all of those things are overshadowed by love and hope. The kids that live at and attend the school are truly gifts from God.
I got first hand experiences with the kids that were there many years ago. In high school the band and show choir I participated in would make frequent stops to the school to perform and interact with the kids. We also, as members of National Honor Society, would go and volunteer. My favorite times were when we went with show choir. We would do our performance for the most enthusiastic crowd EVER! The loved us no matter how off we were. But after the perfomance is when we would have the best time (and this happened with NHS too, as we sometimes worked in tandem at Hope) we would have a party. These kids will put any college party animal to shame. They can go! They have a joy that is absolutely contagious.
I have a soft spot for kids with physical and mental disabilities. They have so much wisdom beyond their years, and so much to teach if we only allow ourselves to be open to their gifts.
I used to work in a day camp/summer school type program in Springfield while I was home for the summers during college. One year I had a child with autism, and Little Red, as I called him due to-duh-his bright red hair, turned me into the person I am now. He taught me patience, and to enjoy the things you can. He would find enjoyment is the things that make most people scratch their head, and he found safety in them. If we could not find him, we knew to look at the water fountain. He loved to watch the water flow from the spigot to the drain. He loved to hang from the monkey bars. I did too, and that is where we talked. He was not very communicative, but we could always talk on the monkey bars.
Wow, I intended to commend you to look at the above links, not go on and on about this. But that is what happens when I think about these blessings. I just go on and on. I love them more than I could ever express, and am so grateful to have had the experiences i have had with them.
God bless the child.