Alumni Spotlight: Jen Taggart

Jen at YCYouth Challenge is doing more than helping young people play sports and recreation, it’s changing lives.

I have a mild type of cerebral palsy, and have been a part of Youth Challenge since elementary school. I’ve made a lot of memories at Youth Challenge and have gotten the chance to try many activities that I otherwise been able to try, like skiing, ice skating, and sail boating.

When I attended Youth Challenge programs as a child, I never felt like the special needs kid who required extra attention like I sometimes felt during gym class and other community activities. I am blessed to have a fairly mild disability, so all of the programs were already designed for me to do without much trouble.

It’s hard to believe that I am no longer the 10 year old girl riding the van to West Side Sports. I just finished my freshman year at Cedarville University as a journalism major, and am looking into using my writing skills to help others. I’ve considered being a part of a communications department at a non-profit organization like Youth Challenge.

When I’m at college, I feel blessed to have a network of friends who are just a Facebook chat away who understand the specific struggles that come with living with a disability.

If I went to a school closer to Northeast Ohio, I would take more advantage of the YELP programs. I attended the College Q&A night when I was a junior in high school, and my parents and I learned from YC alumni what it’s like living with a disability at college and how to obtain accommodations. I believe that YELP program is a great way to help older members of the YC family prepare for young adulthood. I hope that I am able to attend another YELP program during the next few years.

When I come to Youth Challenge programs, I know that people don’t see me for my limp or bent right hand, but for who I am as a person. I believe that no matter what kind of a disability a person has, it should never define that person. One of the things I hope to do through my writing career is show that disabled people are people first and the same as everyone else.

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