Jack Armstrong - Grade 9, Oakwood High School
It is not easy to identify oneâ€™s own strengths, so I talked to my parents about it. That discussion reminded me of a great experience I had during last school year. I was fortunate to have an opportunity to help one of my classmates.
There was a special needs student in my physical education class, who I will call â€œJoeyâ€. Without assistance, Joey was unable to take full advantage of the physical aspect of the class. We regularly participated in activities such as such as running, baseball, basketball, and soccer. For me, an able-bodied and healthy kid, it was a great escape from the usual schoolwork. I couldnâ€™t imagine how disappointed I would feel if that were taken from me. So, when my teacher asked if I would help Joey, I jumped at the chance.
This meant I would have the responsibility of helping him get changed before and after class, and help him to participate in the daily activities. Throughout the class, I built a relationship with Joey, and did whatever it took to help him succeed. One day, we went through our normal routine and then walked together to the track. That day we would run â€œthe mileâ€ â€“ four laps around the track.
As we were getting ready to run, the teacher said that I should go at my own pace, rather than stay with Joey. When I finished, I saw him running with a special education teacher. I ran up and offered to help. The teacher was happy to let me take over. As we ran together, Joey was eager to stop, but with words of encouragement, I was able to keep him at a steady pace. When the last lap came around, I noticed that Joey could get well under 20 minutes if we were able to push him.
I grabbed onto his hand and led him a bit faster. He responded by jogging at a quicker pace. I knew it would take more than that though, so I appealed to his mind and emotions. I explained to him the faster he runs, the sooner it's over, and how the teacher would be very proud. I told him he could do it, and he heard a cheering crowd as he turned the corner onto the home stretch. Joey was excited to see everyone cheering for him, and I said "Let's race to the finish line!" He gave everything he had and finished the mile strong, in just over 18 minutes; a significant improvement from previous trials. The special education teacher excitedly said, "Never has he done so well! Thank you so much!"
I felt proud to have helped Joey feel so good about himself. I never knew that a small act could make such a big difference. That day I learned that helping others is one of my personal strengths and can give a great feeling of satisfaction.