Lindsey Mendelsberg went to preschool with a little boy who has Williams Syndrome, a genetic condition characterized by medical problems including cardiovascular disease, developmental delays, and learning disabilities.
“He completely changed my life” said Mendelsberg, now a senior at Grandview High School. Her friendship with that young man, which continues to this day, gave Mendelsberg a desire to reach out to other students with special needs.
During the past three years, Mendelsberg has tutored students with special needs. She’s also served as co-president of the GHS Project UNIFY Club, as a Global Messenger for Special Olympics Colorado and a representative to Washington D.C. What’s more, she’s worked on several fundraisers for Special Olympics. She’s also taken part in the Polar Plunge and helped organize Spread the Word campaigns as well as numerous other events. Mendelsberg participates in UNIFIED basketball and track, where students with special needs and other student athletes play together, and she also wants to begin a UNIFIED volleyball team.
So it’s no surprise that Mendelsberg is one of four regional winners of the “Lovin’ It” Award, presented by the makers of Lovin’ Scoopful Gourmet Ice Cream, to recognize young people who are involved in programs that foster respect, inclusion and a true personal connection for people with differences.
“It’s impossible to be in a bad mood when you’re with them,” said Mendelsberg of her time with students with special needs. “They can completely turn your day around. They’re funny. They all have these amazing talents.”
“Lindsey’s commitment to foster respect, dignity and friendship between those with and without disabilities is unequaled,” said Linda Snelgrove, an ILC teacher at Grandview who nominated Mendelsberg for the award. “There are times in one’s life when you are fortunate to meet a young person who inspires you and those around her to be their best; a person who quietly befriends students with different abilities; a person whose strength of character brings about inclusion at our school. Lindsey embodies the values of the ‘Lovin’ It’ Award.”
As a regional award winner, Mendelsberg received a $250 donation for the organization of her choice, as well as a two-month supply of Lovin’ Scoopful ice cream.
Mendelsberg and her mother, Irene, say the students she works with have given her much more than she’s given them.
“As a freshman, Lindsey was diagnosed with ADHD and had a grade point average of 1.8,” said Irene Mendelsberg. “When she started working with these kids, she decided she wanted to be a special education teacher. From that point on, she has earned a 3.8 GPA so she can fulfill her dream.”
“They helped me find my passion,” said Mendelsberg, who now plans to attend the University of Kansas to study special education.
--Posted Sept. 25, 2014.