16 Jul #MyExceptionalStory: Shawn Wilson
Shawn Wilson, incoming college freshmen at Santa Clara University, values the diverse perspectives that he can learn from inclusive communities. As a kid Wilson was a part of E-Soccer, an inclusive soccer program where kids and coaches of all abilities play soccer together. Remembering the inclusive part of E-Soccer, Wilson decided to come back to the program years later as a coach.
“I was just thinking … I wasn’t doing enough to be active in the community and volunteering and stuff like that and this is an opportunity that has always been a part of my life. It’s kind of close to me because both my siblings have special needs so it’s something that I can connect to a lot.”
Wilson appreciates the knowledge and experience that his siblings have shared with him growing up. All three of the siblings have their own passions and personalities. The youngest of the three loves to play soccer and is very genuine in her care for her family. When their parents come home from work, Wilson’s sister will “run up to them to give them a hug.” As a teenager, it is common to feel the need to hide one’s emotions, but the affectionate attitude of his sister has helped Wilson combat this pressure. Wilson’s other sibling loves to play football and thinks of creative ways to give to the community. For example, for their upcoming vacation, his brother wanted the family to volunteer to go abroad and build houses for other families. Wilson has learned a lot from his relationship with his siblings, and this has encouraged him to value the knowledge that people of all backgrounds and interests have to offer.
Wilson’s interests are baseball, video games, architecture, and being a learner. He feels that experiencing life from one point of view is limiting. Wilson goes to E-Soccer to share his knowledge with others and benefit from the diverse perspectives that its inclusive environment allows for.
“Even today … one of the kids who was being really supportive of the team and not just playing for himself but playing for everybody else. That was really nice to see because it can even teach me a lesson about myself. How to not just try to do everything by myself but try to include other people. So that was definitely a really nice lesson to learn.”
Wilson’s desire to learn from people of all abilities will serve him well for the near future, in college. He hopes to attain a bachelor’s degree in psychology and then continue on to be the first in his immediate family to receive a master’s degree. According to an article done by the US News & World Report, diversity on college campuses enhances social development, prepares students for success in their careers, expands their knowledge base, increases creative thinking, enhances self-awareness, and more. Wilson will be be able to connect with many people in college because of his inclusive mentality. He aspires to maintain the inclusive philosophy that he’s learned from E-Soccer and his family by continuing to share his knowledge and to learn from new perspectives. He sees education as “a direct path to being able to learn more about myself and how to give that knowledge to others.” For Shawn, inclusion is not just a kind thing to do for those with disabilities, it is a way of life.