Meet Ghazzal Hammad, a senior at Henry Clay High School who volunteers at the ACEing Autism Lexington program.
Ghazzal volunteered and worked with kids on the autism spectrum as she was one of four students selected by her middle school to help teach them vocabulary. “I worked all year with them then & taught them simple words,” the lacross & tennis varsity player explained.
She also helps Share Center giving out food, water & medical services for people who can’t afford it. “My dad is a doctor and goes there sometimes so I do too.”
Before COVID, she went to the Eastern State Hospital with a group of students to talk to patients, interact and bring them food.
When Evan asked about volunteering for ACEing Autism, it was an easy yes for her. Even with her experience working with kids with autism, she was surprised by the shift.
“I mainly taught academic things in middle school but with ACEing Autism it’s very different, it’s socialization & physical activity so you learn how to help them when they get frustrated,” she observed. “It’s something new and challenging but when they learn they get so excited and can’t wait to show their parents,” she excitedly described.
Through this experience, she noticed how giving them words of affirmation, walking through the skill again and finding each child’s way of learning were things they responded to best.
“The child I’ve been working with had a tough time 2 weeks ago and started crying but we gave him time to rest and gave him affirmation which helped a lot as he was happy and running around after.”
These experiences also helped her grow as she finds herself being more open minded on how people learn differently, execute things differently, and develop differently. “My favorite part is seeing how happy the kids are, but especially the parents.”