When Your Career Leads To Your Purpose
by Tiffany Daniels
Many times, I have found myself trying to understand why I was so dedicated to community service and just being inquisitive about education in general. I have always felt a need to give back, but never really understood the why during those times of giving. But, now I know. The reason is that I have volunteered with amazing organizations that provided experiences that taught me invaluable lessons needed to help prepare the vision and the WHY for The Learning Paradigm.
One of the things I learned was that each of those organizations recognized a need. With my background as a Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist who has worked in communities and schools for over 10 years, I was able to recognize a few needs that surpassed the communication concerns that I was there to focus on. I realized…
A need to close a gap for those families that do not have the resources or awareness to adequately know how.
A need to provide an alternative child development program
A need for a culturally diverse organization to help with racial equity
A need for there to be advocates in underserved communities
My question was, “What are these kids going to do after they finish school?” I was concerned that we are not teaching skills that are going to help them to better understand who they are as individuals. I am aware of the limitations that a disability can place on a person. However, I am also aware that we all have gifts and talents that God has given us to use. So, how are we helping children with disabilities to find theirs to truly understand who they are as people first?
Emotional intelligence teaches us that learning skills such as self-awareness, empathy, relationship skills in our formative years set the foundation for future habits later on in life. But, how can our children learn these skills without opportunity and most importantly, exposure!
The Learning Paradigm was founded in 2016 on the principles of ensuring appropriate and accurate child development programs in communities. As an advocate for those with special needs, I have gained insight on the impact that disabilities can have on the lives of an individual and their family. We hope to redefine society’s perspective on these children so that there is an understanding that children with disabilities are not different, but may have a different way of learning, coping, and adjusting with life as it comes.
Our children need the support of empathetic individuals who want them to be successful and gain functional living skills just as their peers. The mission of The Learning Paradigm is to implement programs in underserved communities that nurture the skills and capacities of children with special needs. The vision of the organization is for children with special needs to become self-sufficient individuals through social-emotional learning. Our hope is to highlight their strengths, talents, gifts, and abilities, instead of putting so much emphasis on their disabilities.
A part of that is understanding what you are capable of and being able to recognize that within yourself. Our programs have proven beneficial in helping to expose children to everyday activities that provide a sense of “normalcy” and contribute to their social-emotional growth. Through our Within Reach Mentor Program for ages 4-12, our children have demonstrated an increase in self-esteem, desire to try new things, and increased attention spans. Our summer program, S.T.E.M. SELS (Social Emotional Learning Skills), in which we partnered with Seeds to STEM, a local nonprofit in Dallas to help our teens ages 13-18. Adding the component of STEM to this leadership program, especially innovative hands-on activities that are more engaging helps the students thrive in an active, problem-solving atmosphere using the skills that they gain from the social-emotional components. Our parents have become more assertive when asking questions about child development as well as learning one of the most important lessons in knowing that they are their child’s first advocate and role model. Our volunteers, whom several of them had never worked with children with disabilities have become more empathetic in understanding that these children are just like every other child but just may require a little more patience. It amazes me how some of the volunteers faces light up when they see one of our children kicking a goal, building solar cars, or hitting the ball!
The Learning Paradigm is one of the few organizations in the southern sector of Dallas to provide these types of programs. We pride ourselves on being accessible to the community by building relationships and collaborating with other non-profit organizations and partners such as local recreation centers and libraries that will hopefully eliminate any barriers that may interfere with providing the programs, awareness, and resources that are needed to support our children.
As the Founder and CEO of Jargon Consulting Services, we provide free to very cost-efficient services that include advocacy, staff training, speech and behavior therapy, and other educational tools. I am excited to share about Kiddo, Lingo!. As the author of this creative book series, I am hoping that it inspires and encourages children, especially those with special needs, to excel in their developmental skills. With Kiddo, Lingo!, the goal is to provide exposure to daily activities that children of all diverse cultures experience and can relate to, so we can achieve the common goal that we all share: wanting the best for all of our children.
I can honestly say that running this organization has not been smooth sailing. But, like I mentioned before, I know why I do what I do. Even with the challenges we sometimes face, I believe The Learning Paradigm will open doors for our children and their parents to believe that there is more for their children. We all have a purpose in life. Big or small, we all have a part to play in making sure that we leave our mark. Everyday that we wake up, we should be given the opportunity to BE GREAT. Some of us just need others to believe in us and show us how great we can be! And that is our goal with The Learning Paradigm.
Read more articles like this in the Winter Issue of Emerge Woman Magazine here!