Tue 10 May 2005
I wasn’t surprised that I became very nervous as I walked into The Steven’s Group on Thursday. Mentally disabled adults have always made me uncomfortable, which is weird because I spent many summers working with mentally disabled children. Maybe it is because whether or not a child has a disability, they always need to be taken care of or helped. However, it is hard for one to fathom an adult who may not be able to “fully function” or need help taking care of themselves (I have a similar fear of nursing homes, maybe there’s a connection). I am extremely happy I will be doing my service at The Steven’s Group because this experience will hopefully help me overcome my fear.
I expect this experience to be a very rewarding one. As stated above, hopefully I will overcome my fear of mentally disabled adults. Also, the types of disabilities the members have are extremely intriguing. Many of them are bipolar or depressed. I never thought of these problems as disabilities because I know many successful people who have either one or the other. I expect to gain a whole new outlook on these disabilities from my service. I really like this program because their goal is to make the members of the group independent. This negates the stereotype that mentally disabled people are unable to live on their own or take care of themselves. Also, as an American Studies major, I am interested in learning how American culture and society’s expectations affected their lives and even their disabilities.
I believe that I can contribute a lot to the center. My eagerness to work with the members is a contribution in itself because I am looking to help in any way possible. I do a lot with community service on campus already so I have an understanding of what my role there will be. The director of the group spoke a lot about teaching the members daily skills such as vacuuming, cooking and cleaning; I feel that I can contribute in that way. I can also contribute by listening to their stories, playing pool or watching a movie with them; just being there in a positive way will make a difference. I also hope to advertise the agency in the community service organizations on campus. It is a great resource in a neighborhood and we should be doing daily community service there.
I think my fear of mentally disabled adults is one problem my community encounters daily. Also, most people might not know much about the topic, therefore, they may believe stereotypes or form their own false beliefs. It must also be hard to be a person so afflicted by depression or bipolar in American society because these illnesses are often overlooked as disabilities or diseases. I believe this is because if it is finally “normal” to consider such things as disabilities or diseases, this country may have to start questioning what in our culture leads to these problems.