A close friend of mine on cross country inspired me to get involved with ELS and Special Olympics at New Trier. She was the cross-country captain, and has a remarkable strength of character and is a true leader. She was on the ELS board and told me how fun ELS and Special Olympics were and encouraged me to join.
Honestly, when I first started working with ELS (Enriching Lives Through Service—a club within New Trier that works with students who have disabilities) and Special Olympics I didn’t know what to expect. I was a little nervous because I had never interacted with students who have disabilities before.
But that all changed when I met Susie. Susie was my athlete that I coached during Special Olympics. Her cheerfulness and enthusiasm were infectious. I couldn’t wait for Tuesday nights to spend with Susie; it was amazing how over a couple of short weeks we had become so close as we bonded over Twilight, running and Taylor Swift.
It did not take long for me to overcome my nervousness, because what is there to be nervous about? Those who have disabilities are my peers, my friends. I have learned the value of friendship and how important is to be there for someone.
Overall, ELS and Special Olympics have had very a positive impact on my New Trier experience. I have met so many truly nice, genuine people through ELS and Special Olympics and it has been an amazing group to work with. It has been an honor to be accepted on the ELS board and give back to a program that has given me so much.
About the Author: Betsy Powers is a board member of the Enriching Lives through Service (ELS) Club at New Trier High School where she is currently a junior. ELS strives to improve the quality of life for students with and without disabilities by promoting self-esteem and social interactions through peer mentoring in integrated settings.