16-year-old, I’ve come to realize that there are few experiences quite as
impactful and rewarding as volunteering. When I heard about the opportunity to
partner with teens with disabilities to prioritize health and wellness, I knew
this was something I wanted to be a part of. All Star Abilities at the JCC in
Northbrook is incredible! The program is wonderful and has provided me with
lots of opportunities to make friends with incredible people in an environment
that all of us love—the gym. This experience has been invaluable for me in so
many ways; not only have I had the chance to help others, but it also has taught me the importance of community service and has given me skills that will last a
with teens with disabilities has allowed me to better understand the value of
selfless acts of kindness. Serving without expecting anything in return is
incredibly important, and volunteering teaches this lesson in a way no
classroom ever could. It has also been eye-opening to witness the struggles that
some individuals face on a daily basis due to their disability. It has made me
appreciate my own ability while developing empathy towards those who may be
different from myself.
teens standing in corner at a piece of workout equipment in the Bernard Weinger
weight room. On their right is two rows of free weights against a large full
wall mirror, to their left against a wall with a window looking out into the
parking lot are rows of colorful kettlebell weights. Behind them is a large
balance ball and two adjustable benches.
my time in this program, I have worked with tons of different kids and have
made special connections with many of them. In particular, I have loved working
with Zach. Zach is a high school senior, and even though I am just a sophomore,
we have been working out together for almost two years. I love working out with
Zach and helping him reach his full potential in the gym. His favorite thing to
do is pullups, and everyone in the program has heard legends of his prowess
(30+ in a row). Zach is also an incredible kid outside of All Star Abilities. He loves writing novels and playing basketball for his school. If not for
this program, I would never have met Zach or any of the other kids that I am proud
to call my friends. For that, I am forever grateful.
To learn more about JCC's All Star Abilities or to get involved, check out their website here.
of Dex Schwartz sitting on couch and smiling.
About the Author: Dex Schwartz is a Sophomore at New Trier High School where he is a member of
the Lacrosse team, DECA, and Tri-ship, a leadership organization engaged in
fundraising activities that benefit the New Trier Scholarship Fund, as well as
projects that serve the community. When not volunteering with All-Star
Abilities or traveling to lacrosse tournaments, he works with kids at High-Five