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Appearances Are Deceiving This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   All day George sits in his wheelchair in the corner. Barbara stands in the center of the room like a statue, trying to catch her friends' attention. A crowd of wheelchairs congregate around the center table trying to do arts and crafts projects. Each person has a different problem. Some have seizures, others cerebral palsy, and there are some undiagnosed problems.

These are the clients of Jawanio, a place for the physically handicapped to live and work to the best of the ability. There they learn to cope with the many disabilities they have. They form a community, helping each other, along with conquering their problems.

Every Wednesday, I help as a youth volunteer. This is a very difficult job. I must overcome my fears and pity for them. I have to turn these emotions into positive feelings and direct them to the clients as I try to help.

The first time I volunteered I was terrified. Just watching them scared me. There was a man who threw cups and plates around the room. Others scream and drool. Some walk around aimlessly. Others just sit in their wheelchairs all day, like vegetables.

Among the clients one touched me. Her name is Barbara and she is 34 years old. She is unable to walk or do normal, everyday activities. She sits in a large recreation room and tries to do simple arts and crafts projects. Her physical appearance frightened me so much that I was afraid to talk to her. I don't really know why I was scared, but maybe because I felt sorry for her.

The first few times, Barbara would yell at me. I never understood what she said, but I was scared. I always moved away, because I though she would hurt me. After I volunteered for about a year, she came up to me one day and handed me a card. She had written, "Thank you for volunteering!" I was so touched that I had made a difference in her life. fl


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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