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Birds of a Feather

Sometimes in the walk of life, you meet people that you just know are a kindred spirit. You can almost see your reflection in them. As a teacher, I have been SO BLESSED to get to know so many of my students family members and their siblings. I have had the privilege of staying in contact with many of these "kids" (who have now grown up to be adults....the nerve of them!) and I see so much of myself in them. Now, I am not saying this to "toot my own horn". Bear with me here....

What I mean to say is that I see their love for their siblings, their dedication, devotion and passion. I see them growing into strong advocating adults who very often choose a career path that will serve individuals impacted with disabilities. They show a maturity well beyond their years and an empathy that is so needed. They carry with them life experiences that will help shape them into the caring, nurturing adults that they already are and continue to become.

I see me in them 30 years ago.....I remember my unyielding love for my brothers and my willingness to roll up my sleeves and dive in where needed. I remember watching my mom and dad and quietly learning and observing. I see them doing the same.

This week, Larry and I recorded an episode of the podcast I'm particularly excited about! It will be in two parts....and we have two special guests that agreed to join us. Part one is with Ms. Claire Malicki. I got to know Claire at the high school I teach at. I had her brother Nick in my class a few years ago for a short time (*sweetest kid ever!!) and every day at the end of the day, she would come and get Nick to drive him home with her. That's when I got to know Claire and what a blessing it has been to keep in touch with her. She is currently finishing up her Bachelors degree as an Occupational Therapy Asst. and has two brothers; Nick as I mentioned above and Alix. Wait till you hear her share from her heart.

Our next guest will be Ms. Hillary Wassel. I also got to know Hillary at the high school I teach at. I had her brother Matthew in the Life Skills English class I taught (*Again, sweetest kid ever!!) and Hillary graduated in 2011. I was one of the class advisors for the class of 2011 and Hillary was very involved in all of our events.....we grew to rely on her enthusiasm and participation as keys to our success. Hillary has gone on to get her degree in special education. I admired Hillary's devotion to Matthew. She was and still is a breath of fresh air and her smile lights up a room.

Both of these girls - let me just say - that as a sibling of 2 brothers impacted by intellectual disabilities, I feel so confident knowing there are individuals like them that will continue to be strong advocates for their siblings and work to secure an inclusive, productive life for their loved ones and others like them in the years to come. I can confidently say that they will fight the good fight!

Hillary and Claire....I am proud to know you. Thank you for joining us on our podcast and being willing to share from your heart your journey as a sibling to some pretty amazing people.

We truly are birds of a feather.

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