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Teaching Advocacy

Advocacy is helping people find their voice. It is a hard concept for everyone and a skill to be learned.

I remember in college, having the opportunity to take a once in a lifetime trip to Israel. The only problem was my Microbiology final from nursing school was scheduled the day after we would be flying out. I really wanted to go but did not see any reason that the school should make an exception for me. I gathered my courage and decided to see if my professor would allow me to take the exam early so that I could go on the trip. I was pretty doubtful that the request would be granted. I rehearsed in my mind, over and over, what I would say, trying to anticipate any objection the professor might raise. As I enter his office to make my request, I looked up on the wall over his desk and saw a beautiful poster that displayed "Flowers from Israel"

As soon as I told him what I was asking, he became very excited and told me all of the things that I was to be sure and visit. We had an incredible talk and he had no problem allowing me to take the exam early. If I had given into doubt and fear, I would have missed out on an incredible opportunity.

Teaching this skill to Ben has been an ongoing process. It actually started very young and without us even thinking about the word advocacy. On the occasional Sunday visit to McDonalds, the boys would anxiously await their happy meal to see what collectible toy would be in the bag. Sometimes, they would receive one that they already had and wanted a different item to complete a collection. Glenn would tell them "That's no problem, go on up to the counter and ask if you can trade the item." The boys learned early on that it was ok to ask, but that you did have to accept the answer. Looking back we can see how this promoted advocacy, but at the time, it may just have been that we did not want to be the ones to ask.

Fast forward to Ben finding work at Dorney Park. The first year he was hired as a Park Ambassador, he walked the park for 8 hours bringing guest relations to the guest. He loved the job and all of the opportunities to talk with the guests. The year after Covid, they changed the responsibilities as they were facing some staff shortages and asked Ben to man the front gate as a ticket taker. To his credit, he did the job that year but really missed the freedom to walk the park and interact with the guests. This past year, as they were open for hiring, Ben advocated for himself and asked if he could have a position like in the past and to his credit for asking and Dorney's for accommodating his request, it was a win-win for both parties.

Ben always says on work days "Yayayaya I get to go to work today!"

Like Ben always says, "Never be afraid to ask, because you never know what you are going to get!"

Love you more,


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