Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Shine

November 1, 2012

Last year every day of November leading to Thanksgiving I decided to keep a list of the things I am thankful of. I am going to attempt that again this year as I think it really made me think about the things that were important to me and how they affect my life. My challenge... not to repeat myself from last years list!!

22 Days of Thanks 2012 - Day 1
I am thankful for my ability to give.

Today I was invited after work with my boss and some other co-workers to an event to benefit The Shine Initiative.
"The SHINE Initiative develops funding and strategic alliances to improve public awareness and understanding of mental health issues, research and treatment." - www.shineinitiative.org
The Shine Initiative was brought to our attention by the folks at Fidelity Bank as my office has designed (and are still in the process of designing) a few of their locations and have established a respectful relationship with them. I was honored to be invited to represent our company at this event as this is a cause that is very near to my heart.

My passion for awareness for disabilities, both physical and mental has always been evident. I was exposed to mental illness from the beginning of my life, as my great aunt was born with a mental disability. She was only expected to live a short life, however 60+ years later, she had shocked the world. She was non verbal, and as a child I could not understand why she was "different," why she loved Mickey Mouse as much as I did and why she could look at me, try to speak and not be able to say anything. I found her infatuation and skill that she showed when she built massive structures all around my great grandmothers living room with popsicle sticks amazing. Though I was still young, not knowing what I wanted to do with  my life when she passed, I feel as if my relationship with her left a print on my heart.

I had the opportunity to spend time at a summer camp for people with mental and physical disabilities and as I began to learn and become more aware of the many mental disabilities in the world my heart just grew fonder for a way I could help. How could I use my talents and my "abilities" to help those in need... to raise awareness for those who are not aware? My worlds collided when I had the opportunity to design for disabilities. Raising awareness in the architectural world for designing for disabilities is a large task to take on, my first attempt was my masters thesis titled "Beyond the Walls - Making the Community Transision for Adults with Autism."

One small step...check out The Shine Initiative. Raise awareness in mental illness.


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