PUSHing for Change

Written by Sylvia Fuerstenberg, former executive director, The Arc of King County

People have a lot to say about “kids” today, and not all of it is kind. However, I’ve recently had a chance to meet several young men who I want to brag about. It’s true that one of them is my son, but I think you’ll agree that it’s worth my crowing about him and his fraternity brothers.

On Wednesday, 27 young men from Pi Kappa Phi chapters from universities around the country departed from Seattle along with their wonderful support crew to complete a trans-American trek to Washington, D.C. on bikes. Their 4,270-mile Journey of Hope will be punctuated by the reason for their trip – “friendship visits” with people who have disabilities from all across our country. Their visits, and their very long ride, will raise money and awareness for people with disabilities. The men on this ride and two other groups departing from Los Angeles and San Francisco have raised nearly $500,000 this year alone!

The Arc of King County had the privilege of hosting the young men for our very own friendship visit on Tuesday before they left on their summer adventure. The young men arrived promptly at 1pm to meet with people from our Supported Living Program and Banchero supported living program for a picnic lunch at the Olympic Sculpture Park. Everyone enjoyed having a delicious lunch in the beautiful sun shine, however the real highlight for me was listening to the conversations that took place between these men and the people we serve. They talked about all sorts of subjects—favorite movies, vacations, hobbies, and pets to name just a few—and they really learned a lot about each other.

As I have reflected on that afternoon this week,  I can see how their Journey of Hope will be changing minds. They will not only be changed personally by the journey and influence how some people still view people with disabilities, but they will also change opinions that “old people” like me have about this younger generation. They are change agents who are making a difference by taking action, and I am very proud that one of those young people making our world a better place for all people to live, work, and play is my son.

If you want to follow the Journey of Hope, check out their team blog at http://pushamerica.org/johtajournal.aspx.

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