Yes, a tarantula!
You never know what you’ll discover in Integrate for Good’s Empowerment Lab.
Our innovative Empowerment Lab is designed to transition-age high school students and adults to learn work-related skills, build areas of passion, and learn environmental work preferences.
After learning about individual strengths, we help match students and adults with opportunities where their abilities and contributions will be valued and celebrated.
We were so excited to kick off our latest session of Empowerment Lab at Perkiomen Valley High School a few weeks ago.
Jason, one of our current Empowerment Lab students, came in with a typical teenage attitude. “What’s your favorite subject,” we asked? “Nothing!”
“Ok! What is your favorite time of day?” “Dismissal!” was his response. Our Empowerment Lab team looked at each other and smiled. This was going to take a while.
We decided to ask the group about pets. Who doesn’t like to talk about kittens and puppies, right??
Jason shared about his pet tarantulas.
At first, we thought he might be trying to make up a story to get a reaction. But, it was all true! In fact, he just got a new tarantula for his birthday!
We asked if he had any pictures and he seemed surprised that he hadn’t pushed us away.
It’s when he started sharing photos on his phone that we instantly discovered his genius. Jason’s autism gifts him an incredibly artistic eye and visual ability.
As we scrolled through his photos, tarantulas led to colorful moths with fascinating designs, baby ladybugs, bees, delicate centipedes, and a beautiful praying mantis.
His lighting was exquisite.
The detail was extraordinary. He lit up himself, sharing stories of how he waits for the exact second when they land or lift their wings in flight. The up-close portrait of his tarantula’s face was actually beautiful!
This was the kid that missed our first meeting because he was having a ‘bad day.’ This is the kid labeled oppositional and difficult.
He softened and said quietly, “I’m not sure why some of them land on me. Usually, they know to be afraid of people. They trust me, I guess.”
We can’t wait to see how we can capture this talent and share it. Maybe he could teach at a nature center? Work at the Insectarium? Take photos for a nature magazine? Travel with National Geographic one day?
We took the first step. He let us in. We can’t wait to discover who is inside.
Young people with disabilities deserve to have people who empower and challenge them to dream big! This week, we’re raising the funds to welcome six more students off of our waiting list.
Can we count on you to capture untapped talent with us? Thank you for your gift!
Integrate for Good strengthens local communities by expanding opportunities for people with disabilities to share their time and talent.