The Junior Residency was formed as a way to utilize the Shaping God’s World Fund to support student-led initiatives that meet a real need. We are in year two of our Junior Residency. We have students who are now deeply engaged in the Jr. Residency and are busy putting together action steps to fulfil their project requirements as they move their projects forward.
Here is the third in our Jr. Residency blog series featuring the students and projects of the Junior Residency:
BY ALISHA BIRING
In my bedroom, I have a painting that says, “If you stumble, make it part of the dance.” I simply thought it was a cute quote, but now I know it is an important life motto. Ever since I was five-years-old, I felt a desire to champion individuals with disabilities and try to support them so they can live fulfilling lives.
A Growing Desire
Growing up with an older brother on the autism spectrum, I saw his struggles firsthand and the support–or lack thereof–he received from different kinds of people. At age five, I didn’t know how I could help, but I gained so much experience and knowledge from my brother. It only reaffirmed my desire to support individuals with disabilities.
I just didn’t know how.
Apart from spending time with my brother, as a child, I really enjoyed dancing. I had acute social anxiety, so my parents decided to enrol me in baby ballet at age three. When it came to expressing myself, words weren’t easy, but dance was. It was cathartic and helped me release the emotions I so desperately wanted to articulate to others but simply couldn’t.
Since then, I have tried various dance styles, and even at 17, my passion and love of dance has grown. After seeing how much it has benefited me, I knew I wanted to share this gift of creative movement with others who wouldn’t typically be invited into such a space.
Can’t Shake This Feeling
When I first heard about the Junior Residency program, I really didn’t think it would be a good fit for me. I came up with a plethora of reasons why I wasn’t qualified, but there was a feeling in my heart I couldn’t shake. Now I know it was God telling me this opportunity was important; it was time to take my passions and experiences and use them for His good.
I knew that I wanted to do something that would provide a unique opportunity for individuals with disabilities. Upon researching organizations like this in Abbotsford, I found Communitas Supportive Care Society, a faith-based charity providing care for individuals with disabilities. I connected with the staff and clients, and I knew Communitas was the right organization for my project. I plan to combine my passions for dance and supporting those with disabilities by creating a creative movement class catered toward adults with primarily developmental disabilities.
I have never felt so sure that this is what God wants me to do.
Real World Lessons
If there is anything I have learned over the past year working on this project, it’s that things don’t always go according to plan. As someone who likes to have structure rather than create it for myself, I’ve learned that it is crucial to adapt. Finding an instructor for the class has been the most challenging task, but it has taught me a lot about the real world.
Throughout this journey, I have had a lot of doubts and felt very overwhelmed, but the amazing people from Communitas and Mrs. Teresa Spyksma have helped me through it. Still, I am hopeful that we will soon find an instructor.
I realize that the journey thus far has allowed me to let go of my own plans, let God work, and make it part of the dance.