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Monarch volunteer researches autism and pursues career in behavioral health

care kaitlyn weilNot many people figure out what they want to do with their life at age 18, much less from watching a TV show. However, Kaitlyn Weil did just that after watching the series “Parenthood” and fell in love with one of the show’s characters, Max Braverman, who portrays a teen with Asperger’s syndrome.

“I had never really known what I wanted to do when I graduated, I just knew I wanted to help people,” she said. But the show, which features a behavioral aid that works with Braverman was a big part of how Weil became interested in pursuing a career in behavioral health.

Weil, who is a senior at North Stanly High in New London, N.C., said she watched the show two times through and decided to do her senior project on autism and Asperger’s syndrome. She also began volunteering at Monarch’s Moss II home in Albemarle shortly after.

“There are a lot of students at school who have autism and I have gotten to know them and they are amazing. I want more people to understand them,” she said.

She also wants more people to learn about and get to know those who are living with disabilities, which is something she has been able to do at the Moss II home. She volunteers with a person we support by spending time at the house painting her nails and watching the Disney Channel with her.

Tara Sellers, operations manager at Moss II, said Weil “brings a youthful energy to the home.”

“She comes to the home to volunteer her friendship to the people we support and Moss II enjoys her smile, but much more, her willingness to go beyond to do whatever is needed to bring a smile to their faces,” Sellers said.
 
For Weil, volunteering at Monarch has been an eye opening experience and has challenged and changed many of her misconceptions of those living with disabilities.

“I’ve had a complete change of heart and I’m so happy to be working with the girl that I do, she’s so happy to be there,” Weil said.
 
After graduation, Weil’s goal is to continue volunteering at Monarch and pursue a degree in psychology after receiving an associate degree in business. Her goal is to become a behavioral aid and develop her own practice to help people with autism.

“I just want to be able to do something that makes people with autism feel they are worth what they are, and for others to know that as well,” she said.

National Volunteer Week is April 6-12, and is about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities, just like what Weil is doing. For more information about becoming a Monarch volunteer check out our website: http://monarchnc.org/donate/volunteer

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