So, I should probably start with introducing myself. My name is Megan Batchelder.

I am a senior over at Salem High School and for my first semester I will be interning over at Community Crossroads in Atkinson, NH. I am 17 years old (as of September 13th, 2018 – yay!), and I haven’t quite decided what I want to do with my life yet, however, I know I want to work with and help either people or animals.

My school helped me find Community Crossroads last year when I was applying for my internship. I said that I wanted to work in either Occupational or Art Therapy and that I wanted to get a good feel for what it would be like to work in one of those options. A lot of kids at my school applied for Occupational and Physical Therapy internships (it’s very popular I guess), so those were a little hard to find for me. However, they got in touch with Community Crossroads and I learned that they could help me in terms of the Art Therapy. The internship would also  allow me to spend time in other areas of human services, specifically disability work. Upon meeting Cynthia Mahar, the Area Agency Director and Dennis Powers, the CEO, I instantly felt very accepted and welcomed. They both made me feel super comfortable about this new arrangement and went out of their way to help introduce me to staff and continue to speak highly of me to their employees and coworkers. Everyone knows who I am or has at least heard of me, and that helps make it a lot less awkward when I’m in the office.

My first week consisted of a lot of getting to know how things worked, and included being introduced to their partner, Life Visions. This is where I will be spending Mondays and Fridays with the theatre group they run. Woohoo – Art Therapy! If I’m being completely honest, I was really scared my first few days! My very first day was on Wednesday (9/5/18) where I met with Dennis and we discussed basically everything they discuss with new employees. We went over safety protocols, what my schedule would be, all of the good business-y type stuff. On Thursday we watched a movie called “Lost in Laconia”, which I highly recommend to anyone interested in the history behind how people with disabilities used to be treated (click here!). On Friday I had my first day at Life Visions with Cynthia. We both went over, signed in, and kind of just… jumped in! The theatre group is working on their show, “Rockin’ Robin”, and have been for over a year and a half. They’ve put a lot of time and effort into this show and you can tell! I could also see, just by being in the room while they worked, how much they truly love being there and working towards making the show exactly what they want it to be.

Life Visions is an organization that provides daily activities for people with disabilities, such as theatre group, separate men’s and women’s clubs, lunch outings, park trips, shopping trips, all with the common goal of assisting people to be connected in their communities. Life Visions provides safe and fun opportunities for clients while their parents or caregivers are at work or away.

Working at Life Visions has given me the opportunity to have hands-on experience and learn what working with people who have disabilities is like. I noticed that there is such a large variation when it comes to disabilities. Some people are verbal, some are not, some can have full conversations just like you and I, some need a bit more help, the list goes on… I only include this because prior to starting my internship, I barely had any experience with people who have disabilities. Even now, only being a handful of weeks into it, I have learned so much!

On the following Monday I got to go back to Life Visions and see everyone again. After their practice time, multiple people came up to me and were so interested in the classes I was taking, what high school is like for me, if I do any artsy classes (which I do – band and chorus), all types of things. The conversations were exciting and everyone there made it so easy for me to not feel like a stranger, but instead like I had been there all along.

On Tuesday and Thursday the entire Community Crossroads staff worked together to prepare for the annual golf tournament fundraiser. This included printing off and folding up brochures, putting together gift baskets, and cookies. Very. Yummy. Cookies.

Overall, my first few weeks at both Community Crossroads and Life Visions were a little nerve racking but still very fun and enjoyable all around. All of the clients and staff at both locations are very committed to what they do and you can just tell that people enjoy it and work hard to make everyone happy by end of day. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the semester brings me!

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