Earlier this summer, I alluded to a post that I didn’t get a chance to finish before Camp Firebelly started. Now that things have settled down a bit, I finally have a chance to finish it and share why I was so excited to be a part of this past summer’s charrette. You see, ever since I wrote about my Passions outside of design this past spring, I began to notice how much those Passions connect me to Causes that I truly care about. Many of these causes, such as sustainability issues, tie in rather nicely with my career as a designer, but a couple have driven me to seek out opportunities to help in other ways.
For example, I am really passionate about academics: particularly when it comes to the sciences and foreign languages. As much as I see the value in sports, I feel that there is a general lack of support and emphasis in our public education system on academics in comparison to athletics. Even during my tenure from middle school to high school, I have seen funding cut from programs such as Science Olympiad in favor of athletic programs. Funding for visual and performing arts programs is even more dismal. Whenever possible, I try to give my time to help coach my siblings’ Science Olympiad teams, and have even helped judge tournaments when I could. It was really inspiring for me to work with Radio Arte this past summer through Camp Firebelly. Everyone at the radio station was not only passionate about their culture, neighborhood, and social issues, but they were also really motivated to help these students succeed.
Although it is not directly related to any of my Passions, another Cause that I really care about is bettering the vocational support for developmentally disabled adults. As my sister has graduated from high school and moved into the workforce, I have been appalled at the lack of support for adults with special needs in the workplace. Many companies simply won’t hire those who, like her, are educably mentally retarded. Those companies who will, often take advantage of the situation. With virtually no nation-wide agencies (government or otherwise) who reliably support and advocate for these adults throughout the entirety of their careers, many simply fall through the cracks. Further, many people in the general population have a lack of understanding for the disabled. This past summer, I wrapped up work on an annual report for eitas, the support organization for Jackson County, Missouri. Right now, I am glad to be involved with some projects for the Special Olympics. Although they don’t support the disabled in the workforce, they have made tremendous strides in furthering awareness for all types of disabilites.
Call me an idealistic 20-something, but I really and truly want to make a difference in this world. As much as I wish that I could devote my life to one cause and maybe create a non-profit to advocate for others, I know that I don’t have the resources at my disposal to do that (at least at this point in my life). Luckily, I am in a place where I can afford to give some of the (limited) extra time I possess right now to a few of the causes I care most about. So while I envy those my age who are able to start up their own organizations and really make a HUGE difference, I know that often times it is the little things that we do that can make the largest impact.
So this was the one thing major thing that I took away from Camp this past summer: don’t be afraid to advocate for others. Yes, I learned a Ton about web-design, but the true lesson was this: No matter what your calling, there is some way that you can put your talents to use for the good of others. If there is one thing that I can say for Firebelly Design, it is that Dawn knows how to channel her company’s talents towards helping organizations and furthering causes she cares about. I have greatly admired their business model for some time now, and having the chance to spend ten days working alongside and being mentored by Dawn and the rest of her company was very inspiring.