A week from today is #GivingTuesday. This year, The Helix School is participating in this campaign. And, it got us thinking: What’s this all about, anyway?
Thanksgiving. Giving Thanks. #Gratitude. #Blessed. The season is now upon us where we are reminded to be grateful for what we have, to help those less fortunate, to be generous in our donations, in our hearts, minds and our worldview.
In overly simplified terms, we celebrate Thanksgiving because almost four hundred years ago two groups of people, the Plymouth colonists, and Wampanoag Indians, came together to share an autumn harvest feast. These two groups had vastly different backgrounds, life experiences, and visions for their futures. And yet, amidst their differences, this group gathered to share meals and stories.
What a different world it is today. Or is it? Sharing a meal and telling stories is still one of the primary ways that people come together to learn and listen. Because when you sit with people, and you are open to sharing your story and hearing theirs - even with people who appear to be so different from yourself - you soon see how much more alike we all are than different. The key here is sharing. Sharing what we have and what we know with others so that they might benefit.
The practice of generosity in heart and mind leads people to pause, park their judgments, give to people less fortunate and to organizations working to improve the lives of others. When working with children with autism, there is an abundance of opportunity to practice generosity and share in each other’s worlds. People with autism take in their surroundings differently. They focus on different pieces of their environment that many neurotypical people may simply skip over or never notice. At The Helix School, we work to build bridges between their world and ours by finding what is interesting and exciting to our students, using that as a catalyst to guide their learning, whether that be in reading, math, or social-emotional-life skills. Once you begin building that “Shared World Bridge” with students with autism, you realize how much we all have to learn from each other. And in the end, understanding each other leads to a fuller, more harmonious life for us all. As Harry Stack Sullivan so famously said “We are all more simply human than otherwise.”
The reminders this season to be generous can be helpful, but the simple act of liking a social media post or typing a hashtag before a word is not an act that impacts. Giving of yourself, your resources, and time for the betterment of others is indeed what changes the world. So tell your stories, connect with others, and give to organizations that are making a difference. And if you have given to The Helix School, thank you. Generosity is what keeps our doors open. If you would like to donate, you can do so here.