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The Power of Positivity by Jake’s Juxtapositions

January 30th, 2019

Hello There,
This is Jake, CPAC’s new intern. I am a TBI (traumatic brain injury) survivor, an advocate and a Public Speaker. There was a recent article in the New York Times Opinion section on how “Students learn from people they love”. This was a very interesting article, so I thought I put my two cents in this topic as it personally affected my past education and as much shaping my future. When it comes to special education or general education, there is no difference on positive, harnessing approaches between students and teachers. We are all working toward one goal: to be our best: professionally and personally. During my transition from being an all-star athlete to having to rely on assistance getting around in a wheelchair after my injury, staffing played a major role. I experienced both versions, working with the most wonderful paraprofessionals and with the “para-unprofessional”. While I was trying to figure out my life, already beaten up, angry, frustrated, disappointed and lost, the last thing I needed or wanted is to someone limit and control what I can or cannot do. This para-unprofessional made sure to make me feel like I’m nobody, just a handicapped young man in a wheelchair who can’t do anything. During this time, my performance declined, my attitude towards things plunged, and my relationships struggled. It probably couldn’t get any worse. Well, guess what…I am “handicapable”! After this episode, an entirely different person came to work with me, Chrissa. I was excited to see her every day. Learning was fun again. I could feel the potentials, the personal growth, the hopes and dreams coming back alive within me. I received sympathy and the support during tough times, the encouragement to succeed and achieve my goals. This positive relationship established and increased my sense of purpose and meaning. I can proudly say, today, I am in the same boat. Perhaps a bigger boat, since I have amazing people surround me and support me. I have a sense of belonging now. I have a voice and I am sure not afraid of using it. The positive people who enrich our lives are here to stay. When you care about people around you a “How are you?” and a smile goes a long way. The kindness and sincerity creates more kindness and sincerity, it’s like a domino effect. I can’t tell you how many bad days I had, and going into an environment where I feel comfortable, trusted and supported without any judgement is a breath of fresh air. Now I can tell you how excited I am to wake up each morning and see the faces of the people I work with every day. Exemplary positive approaches with humor and equal treatment amongst the staff and students. We know that not every day has its own rainbow and learning comes from experiences that triggers these adjustments. Know that you are capable. Where there is passion, there is possibility…and that is Jake’s Juxtaposition.