What’s “Normal? ” This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     This year I have spent time at the city’s dances for the handicapped to fulfill my service hours. At first I was troubled by the idea of working with the mentally handicapped because I had never been around them before. I went with a friend and when I walked into the auditorium, I was astonished. They arrived in groups with leaders and waited for the doors to open for what seemed the highlight of their week.

Once I was there for a few minutes, I wasn’t uncomfortable at all. I actually became interested in what they had to say, and as the weeks passed, it was clear how excited they were to see familiar faces every Friday night. I realized I meant something to them when I skipped a Friday and they asked where I had been. I was missed!

This was the first time I felt I truly had a place in a stranger’s life. Toward the end of my experience, I knew their stories and faces and felt things I had never experienced. I realized my preconceived notions about the mentally handicapped were wrong. They are all people like us. They love life and take it for everything it’s worth. Now I look back and realize what an effect they had on me. I have learned to love every minute of life and be thankful that I was born the way I was. Meeting them made me respect all handicapped people for their daily struggles. They taught me that no one can judge what is “normal.”

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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