03 Aug Autism: 8 Ways to Turn Pain into Purpose
It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
Carol de Vega is the type of person who radiates hope. She is the fulfillment of everything Robert F. Kennedy described in his Cape Town speech about how we change the world.
Carol De Vega is a parent. She is a single parent. Polly is her daughter, and happens to have Autism. Carol is an extraordinary woman.
There are those who break into a cold sweat at the thought of being a parent. The majority of parents tremble with fear at the idea of becoming a single parent. Fear becomes panic when any of them face the possibility of having a child with Autism. Carol daily conquers all three with a courage inspired by hope.
Her courageous hope was on full display when she returned to her native Manila for a vacation. She wanted to help special needs children in her native country.
What did she do? How did she do it? Let’s take a look at the 8 ways Carol turned pain into purpose.
1) Turn Pain into Purpose: Everyone experiences pain. Life spares no one. Our only choice is how we respond. Rather than becoming a victim of her circumstances Carol has become a hero. Many grow weary in the face of their pain, but Carol has used her pain to discover her purpose. She has become a loving mother, Autism advocate, and community leader. She has decided to change the world.
2) Make Hope Contagious – When a person finds purpose they radiate hope. This is exactly what Carol has done with and for her daughter. She developed Team Polly. Team Polly is a collection of family and friends dedicated to Polly and supporting the cause of Autism. They recently participated in a fundraising walk for Autism. Carol and Polly have such a positive and purposeful attitude about Autism people want to be on their team. Their hope is contagious.
3) Put Your Talents To Work – When we focus our life on pain we lose sight of our possibilities. Carol would have forgotten her talent and potential if she had focused all of her energy on her pain. Carol attended the University of the Philippines on a full soccer scholarship. She received a bachelors of science in child development. She recently considered her challenges, took stock of her considerable talents, and developed a vision. She could launch E-Soccer Philippines. E-Soccer is an award winning inclusive soccer program founded by Russ Ewell in 2000, and now serving children and adults around the world. Carol realized she could do what had never been done…take E-Soccer to the Philippines!
4) Let Your Friends and Family Help – Carol went to work on her new vision. E-Soccer Philippines! She shared her dream with family, friends, and former teammates. She tapped into every secular and spiritual community with whom she shared a connection. While some were hesitant and nervous about their first time working with special needs kids, they came together as one team. One team! One dream!
5) Credibility is the Key – Once Carol had assembled her team she needed a location. She was able to secure the University of Philippines Indoor Soccer Field. We never know when the way we have lived our life will pay off.
6) Live the Dream – Carol’s story of turning pain into purpose was so incredible Gatorade decided to sponsor her event.
7) Teach Inclusion – Carol used her experience as a pre-school teacher, parent of a child with Autism, and E-Soccer volunteer to teach inclusion. She helped inexperienced volunteers to create an inclusive soccer environment. Typical and Special needs children playing soccer together. 60 volunteers and 60 kids. No one stared at, left out, or ridiculed. Everyone included.
8) Redefine Vacation – The most amazing thing about this story is the fact that it took place on Carol and Polly’s vacation.
Update: Here is an article posted by the Manila Bulletin about Carol’s efforts