Monday, December 21, 2009

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers 12/21/2009

As I arrived at Liberty Wildlife the other day, two of our educators, John Glitsos and Mona Berrier were heading out to do an educational program at the Center for Transitional NeruoRehabiltation at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix. I asked John to let me know how it went since this was a first time visit for us. Much of this blog will come from an e mail I received from John after the program.

John said that when he accepted this program, it started him thinking about the need for transitions when something life-changing inserts itself into our world….divorce, death , job loss, crippling injuries….grief notwithstanding, one needs to finally face and in some way embrace the need for transitions. The old you is now different in some critical way. As John says, “I believe the problem is self-image.….They can not only not be who they were, they cannot imagine what or who they can be going forward….Finding their value as people again becomes the core issue.”

Enter Liberty (to the CTNR)) and our marvelous education Ambassadors! Is an injured, grounded bird of prey no longer a bird of prey because it can’t stoop at over 200 miles per hour and now, according to Mona, has to sit on a gloved hand to do its job? Or how about the innate identity of another bird…is it no longer majestic because its wing has been crippled by gunshot leaving it unable to feed itself? Or perhaps, as in the case of the other program birds, arrested in their natural interactions by a head injury or a leg mangled from an impact with a car…do they lose their total identity? Not so, think John and Mona. To John “….he is simply a hawk that has a different purpose in life.” Although these animals have been forced to change jobs, self images....they still have a productive and profound existence.

As each animal was presented to the attendees, (the plan was to take animals with injuries similar to the ones experienced by the patients at the CTNR) it was made clear that they had lives with new meaning, new purpose. To John the words he was saying were similar to those said at every presentation, but now they were being spoken to people who “really needed to hear them. People who needed hope for the future, and could see our educational ambassadors as examples for their own recovery and future lives.” I will add my personal note that we all need help making these changes.

According to John, “When I told you that I was getting more out of my association with Liberty than Liberty was getting out of me, I meant it. And now you can see how. This was a game changer for me as well. I will never think about abilities or disabilities the same way again. It isn’t just about the birds.”

From my past experience as a teacher I found that a good teacher learns as much, if not more from the students as they learn from her. And, certainly in this case, I can say that John and Mona hit the mark of excellence. My hat is off to both of you for another job well done.

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