Now that another great season of college transition camp has come and gone, we’ve had some time to catch up on news around the world. Many of you have probably heard or read recent news about 16-year-old Greta Thunberg and her School Strike for the Climate movement. Greta has Asperger’s syndrome, and has become the public face of a youth climate change movement and has been met with both appreciation and praise, along with criticism and some harsh comments. After seeing some news about her swirling around social media outlets, we recently read an article from The Guardian that we wanted to share with our community:
“When haters go after your looks and differences, it means they have nowhere left to go. And then you know you’re winning!” she wrote, using the hashtag #aspiepower.
While acknowledging that her diagnosis has limited her before, she said it “sometimes makes me a bit different from the norm” and she sees being different as a “superpower”.
One of the biggest challenges our campers have at home is maintaining a strong sense of confidence in who they are. It’s hard for any teen who is going through so many changes in their life to feel confident in themselves, and for teens with Asperger’s syndrome who are working on their social skills, that challenge gets magnified. On the horizon they also see their transition to college and the workforce, which can be daunting to think about. Our campers sometimes think and act differently than their neurotypical peers and are often met with unfair ridicule from peers who don’t understand how their brains work. For teens who struggle with social skills, having to navigate rejection from peers and adults is such a challenging task. Reading this article, it warmed our hearts to see Greta standing up in the face of insensitivity and rejection from adults and remaining confident in who she is, and what her passion is.
One of the more striking comments she had was that before she started the campaign last year, she had “no energy, no friends and [she] didn’t speak to anyone.” It’s amazing how a person can transform with a boost in confidence, no matter what sparks that. For Greta, it was following her passion and connecting with others through that passion. Akeela teens come to our college readiness camp and finally meet others who share and celebrate their interests with them, which is an experience many of them don’t have at home. That feeling of acceptance and confidence is what we hope all our campers feel when they leave camp each summer, and we love hearing the stories about their pursuits beyond camp!