Supporting people with special needs has always been a cause that is close to my family’s heart. When I was a little girl my mom worked as a social worker. I remember visiting her office and her patients. It was my first exposure to the field, and I learned that sometimes people process things or need help in different ways than I do. She even taught me how to say a few words and phrases in American Sign Language that I still remember to this day.
Since those days, I have volunteered my time to assist people with special needs — such as raising money for disabled veterans to purchase iBOT wheelchairs alongside the Wounded Warrior Project in high school and substitute teaching in special needs classrooms last year. Upon arriving in Morocco and learning about the needs of the community here, I knew that I wanted to make this a focal point of my service.
Here in Peace Corps Morocco, we have several committees to which members are elected to serve on the behalf of the rest of the volunteers serving in-country. In June, I was elected to serve on the Serving People with Special Needs Committee along with three other amazing volunteers from my cohort. Our main goals as a committee include: (1) To serve as a liaison and establish relationships between Peace Corps, Moroccan associations, and international organizations serving people with special needs, (2) Integrating people with special needs into our Youth Development framework as Peace Corps Volunteers, (3) Spreading awareness and community health education about people with disabilities in Morocco, and (4) To support Peace Corps Volunteers to best include these goals in their work by providing trainings, support, toolkits, and resources.
In addition to being elected to the committee, I was selected to serve as Vice-Chair for the next year! My duties as the vice chairperson include mainly logistics as well as serving as a liaison between our committee and Peace Corps Staff. I am incredibly honored to serve on this committee!
As a committee we have a lot to look forward to over the next year! In November, my sitemate (and fellow committee member) will be hosting a workshop in our town geared toward assisting parents and caretakers of youth with intellectual disabilities. Several other committee members and I will be assisting her with this fantastic workshop by facilitating sessions and working with the families. Some of the topics we will cover include: communication methods, positive discipline, and the importance of physical and hands-on activities, among many others. I am very excited about this workshop and the benefits it will bring to the special needs community in our town. I am also eager to learn from the expertise of my fellow volunteers as we hope to duplicate this workshop in other Peace Corps sites in the near future.
Over the next year we also will be working closely to plan the Special Olympics in Morocco! I am so thrilled to have this opportunity and can’t wait to see what happens as plans continue to develop.
If you are interested in learning more about our committee please visit our website here: http://www.specialneedsmorocco.blogspot.com/ or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.