It takes a Village to a raise a child
Running for Penny Sharrow and Dianne Jeneault I was always given endless equal opportunities and they made sure I was respected and valued by everyone in the field. Yes there were some meets where I wished I was faster and was thinking “is their care genuine or do they just feel sorry for me?” However I quickly learned that their care and support was real and it led to me gaining a full “village” of supporters. It was more than I could ever imagine.
For example I will always remember running the 1500 for the first time. I was incredibly nervous as the previous season I could barely run 400M without stopping. Penny was truly coaching me like I was projected to win the race even though I was projected to finish in the bottom of the pack. Through this encouragement I finished 20 seconds faster than we both predicted and her post race talk was something I will never forget. While Penny was so excited for me she ended the conversation with how I could do even better next week. This meant a lot to me as it was clear that she believed in me and was focusing on my ability rather than my “disability” .
Through this experience I continued to run this race each meet with a goal to lower my time. With Penny’s and Dianne’s incredible encouragement this happened and by improving each week it allowed me to meet the other runners in the race and many of their coaches too. They all became impressed with my drive and dedication to just focus on doing better despite being a slow runner. This continued throughout the season and my support team grew larger and larger each week. What was really special about this though was when one of the top runners in the 1500 not only gave me a pre race hug she also wanted for me to cross the finish line. Her support along with Penny’s and Diannes’ gave me the strength to always do my best and was a great reminder of why running is a great sport. As the season progressed I became great friends with her which led to us supporting each other throughout every race we did together in all three seasons of running.
Besides always having support from a top runner I also had Canton’s Coach,John Casserly’s support who was and is the track icon for our section. His support meant so much to me as he didn’t just support me because he felt sorry for me, he supported me because he supported those who were the hardest workers regardless of talent. For example, before each race, just like Penny, he would give me the right advice of how I could lower my time and how to never get discouraged by the distance behind I was from the other runners. As the truth is this doesn’t matter what matters is that you get the team points and that you feel confident that you gave it your all. His famous words to me always were “The great thing about running is that it is all about doing your best” and to this day I still remember this. His support was and is a true reminder that it takes a “village” to raise a child.
Through everyone working together it greatly increased my self-confidence and I knew so well who my best supporters were and still are today. Honestly the running circle welcomed me into their village without any hesitations. It was an experience I wish more could have and I strongly believe students with an NVLD or similar disability are missing out on having strong mentors and friendships. You just don’t gain a “village” of supporters by showing up, you gain them by putting yourself out there so others get to know and understand you. Now years later I continue to think that had other resource room students been encouraged to join activities,whether it was sports or other school activities they would have had widespread support too. It is truly so discouraging that this didn’t happen. Understand I do agree with the saying “all it takes is one person to believe you” though through my experiences I know greater results come when you have several people who do. Having a large “village” increases your dedication and social skills as you can see the many people who believe in and like you. This certainly isn’t easy and I understand it doesn’t just happen right away. It requires hard work, patience and dedication but in the end you will understand how it does take a “village to raise a child”. Most of all you will be so grateful for having a “village” of supporters.