I believe everyone has a voice, and that helping each other find it can be one of the most fulfilling purposes in life.
Bella Tommey shows one way we can live out this purpose…
On Wednesday, April 27, 2011, Sophie Goodchild, the Health and Social Affairs Correspondent of the London Evening Standard told the story of an amazing teenager.
The story ran under the headline “I’ve Learned To Accept My Brothers Autism And Want To Help”. I only know about this story because of a tweet from the good people running an organization called Lettuce Work in New Albany, Ohio (being a Michigan man it is hard to give credit to Buckeye Nation, but thanks).
The story is compelling from beginning to end. Here is the opening.
“We couldn’t go to Sainsbury’s without him having a fit and I couldn’t even go shopping with my mum because she’d have to look after Billy,” explains the 16-year-old. “We couldn’t just hang out as a family.”
Having a sibling with special needs has not left Bella feeling resentful or cheated though.
Instead, it has been the inspiration for Give Autism a Chance, her campaign to find jobs for people like her 14-year-old brother. Its supporters include 1,500 Facebook fans and even David Cameron, who invited Bella to No 10.
One fact caught my attention with regard to the life of people with autism in the UK…a fact I am certain isn’t much different here in the U.S.
Only six per cent of adults with autism are in employment. But the Treasury, Bella points out, could save more than £500 million if 20 per cent of them paid taxes instead of receiving benefits.
Then Bella describes her motivation…
“I didn’t want Billy to have to sit at home not getting a chance to do anything. I’ve met lots of children with autism so know how capable they can be.”
The rest of the story is amazing, and after you read this final quote check it out in its entirety here.
“My love for Billy is different from any other. We do argue but he’s part of my life. I’ve learned to accept his autism and want to do everything I can to help. My campaign proves that people with autism are capable of working. Everyone has a voice and should be given a chance.”
You can watch what appears to be an early You Tube video of Bella’s initial efforts below–her life proves “One Teenager Can Change The World”