Group teaches kids with unique abilities to focus on assets

December 1, 2011 10:00:00 PM PST
One woman is trying to make a difference when it comes to children with disabilities. She's set up a program to help the children and their families focus on what they can accomplish, not what they can't.

The Barbara Jordan Endeavors Corporation is an all-volunteer group trying to change how society views people with disabilities and how people with disabilities view themselves. And they're doing it at a high school filled with children who have bright futures ahead of them.

Nelson Jones is a computer whiz. Certified in computer aided design, he's a high school junior with a unique ability.

"I like to go visit places. I like to go on the computer and study stuff," Jones said.

Nelson is also a disabled teen. Mostly wheelchair bound, he refuses to let that stop him. And on Friday, he was among those honored for his hard work as a Barbara Jordan ambassador.

There are 24 ambassadors at Barbara Jordan High School, named for the trailblazing Texas representative who once inspired a woman named Thelma Scott.

"She said if you wanna do it, you need to do it; don't ever procrastinate or nothing. If you do it then, you do it," said Scott.

What Scott did was create the Barbara Jordan Endeavors Corporation, the group that for more than a decade has mentored ambassadors.

"They can do anything anyone else can do, given an opportunity," Scott said.

Working with the high school, Scott and her team mentor teens with unique abilities and teach them how to succeed.

"It has enriched their lives. They feel very empowered, that they can make a difference in somebody else's lives and just expose them to know that they had strengths that they never even knew existed," said Andria Schur, principal of Barbara Jordan High School.

"It's been a discovery, it's been a challenge working with them, but we've found out so much about what they can do versus what they can't do," said Chris Galvez, who also works for the corporation.

"We're bonding a community together. We're making good things happen," said Myeshi Briley with the Barbara Jordan Endeavors Corporation.

Gabriela Hanrahan is an ambassador whose graphic design work won her a statewide award usually given to professionals. She knows the impact Scott has had on her life.

"To create friends," Hanrahan said.

"Mrs. Scott has helped?" we asked.

"Yep," she replied.

Scott figures she's helped more than 200 students and their families through her volunteer work, an effort she says she wouldn't trade -- for anything.

"There are going to be doors closed in our face but don't give up. I've had many closed in my face but I keep on kicking," Scott said.

It's something she's obviously taught to kids like computer whiz Jones.

Twenty-four students are selected each year to participate as ambassadors and even after they graduate and go on to college, they come back to help mentor their younger counterparts.

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