Lily McCloskey - Grade 9, Oakwood High School
The Best Kind of Fun
It was the beginning of junior high and I was shy, soft spoken and anxious; I didn’t want to raise my hand in class or have an opinion in fear of messing up. I was also afraid of responsibilities where it would be my fault if something went wrong. My first day at Buddy Up relieved me of these fears, and it''s helped me become the person I am today.
Buddy Up is a wonderful program that helps kids with Down Syndrome learn to have fun while being active and playing tennis. I had heard about it through my tennis club and became very excited because I liked tennis, and enjoyed helping people. I went home and told my parents about it, and seeing how enthusiastic I was, they signed me up to help. Delighted that I had found a way to give back to my community I looked forward to the first day of the session, but as it grew nearer, I became apprehensive. What if I’m not a good coach? What if they don’t like me? What if someone gets hurt, and I don’t know how to help? These thoughts were like a bad dream; they haunted me until it was finally time for the first day. I arrived at the tennis center nervous, and afraid to go in, but I pulled myself together, took a deep breath, and pushed open the door. Immediately I was welcomed with a big hug. My fear melted away as I looked up to see so many smiling faces. Excited chatter filled the room; everyone was cheery and ready to have a wonderful time, and I realized then that I had no reason to worry. My buddy led me down to the tennis courts and as we began our warm-up, my smile grew and grew. All of the helpers had huge smiles on their faces and were having a blast high-fiving their buddies and coaching too. The buddies were benefiting so much from their positive attitudes. As time went on, I felt myself loosening up. I helped out my buddy, but I didn’t stress about it. I listened to my heart instead of my brain. Every time I smiled, they smiled back. Every time I’d give them compliment or tell a joke, I’d receive a laugh and a hug in return. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of me. Instead of worrying about what could go wrong, I focused on making the session beneficial and fun. As a result, time flew by and I enjoyed myself in so many ways. It felt amazing to be a role model and to be making a difference while staying calm and having a good time. The session ended and everyone had huge smiles on their faces: we put our hands in for the group cheer and I know now that that’s when I found the best kind of fun there is.