Freshman Blaize Peebles Volunteers For His Community
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From working at the Missouri Butterfly Dreams Pageant to volunteering at the St. Louis Special Olympics to translating songs into American Sign Language for his church, freshman Blaize Peebles chooses to spend countless hours volunteering for his community.
“I try to make it a better environment when I’m volunteering,” Blaize said. “I don’t want to make it seem like the kids with special needs are in one group, and I’m in another. We communicate with each other, talk to each other. It’s being there if they need help.”
Blaize volunteers for the Missouri Butterfly Dreams Pageant. It occurs every November and is a pageant for those with intellectual or developmental disabilities, like Down syndrome and autism. Blaize works as a Person Assisting with Love (PAL). Next year, Blaize hopes to escort one of the participants.
“The pageant is more focused on giving special needs kids the opportunity to succeed in their talents, but also having it be an environment where they can feel comfortable doing that,” Blaize said.
Blaize also works at the St. Louis Special Olympics. The organization provides 21 different athletic competitions throughout the year for kids with special needs and physical disabilities.
“People think that kids with special needs aren’t able to do what we’re able to do, but they are,” Blaize said. “This gives them the chance to show that.”
Though he works often with special needs, that isn’t all he does. He taught himself how to use American Sign Language and dedicated his time to perfecting it. He translates songs for his church, Bible Baptist, and also translates songs for his deaf family and friends through videos or live presentations.
“American Sign Language is a language on its own,” sign language interpreter Thomas Skinner said. “It’s a living language. It develops like the English language does. It takes a lot of dedication to learn, as expected by every other language. You have to be fully involved to learn it and even more to translate for others.”
Blaize first had an interest in volunteering in elementary school and then got more involved through a club called All of Us at Bryan Middle School. Through the club, he was introduced to volunteering opportunities with special needs kids.
“It started because he had a friend since kindergarten who was autistic,” Blaize’s mother Shawna Peebles said. “We always told him to keep an eye out for him. Blaize has always been interested in helping out, but this past year he has done a lot more.”
Although Blaize doesn’t want a career working with ASL or helping people with special needs, he still plans on doing what he can with volunteering opportunities.
“I will continue working with kids with special needs and volunteering with ASL in the future, without a doubt,” Blaize said. “I think that once you learn to love others, you learn to love yourself. If I learned to love someone different than me, then I can learn to love myself. That’s what I like the most about it.”