Name: Ayanna Turner Major: Biology How did I get involved in IMPACT?
After hearing about how amazing IMPACT was, I decided that there was nothing better to do during my spring break other than to serve. I went on my first IMPACT trip my freshman year to Jackson, Mississippi. The trip focus was disability/ability awareness. I was able to spend the week with children and young adults with disabilities. However, the COVID-19 pandemic cut my trip short and it made me devastated to leave early without saying goodbye to everyone. I did not want to end my IMPACT experience, so last year, I attended a local trip in Athens with the focus being Women’s Health. Through the local trip, I have learned the importance of volunteering in other communities as well as locally. Through IMPACT, I have learned more about how service intersects with social justice issues and sustainability. IMPACT has given me some of the most life changing experiences in college. I appreciate the various trip focuses, so there is something for everyone! I have met amazing people that have the shared interest of helping others. I am very fortunate to be leading a trip this year.
Why am I interested in my trip focus?
I am very passionate about disability awareness due to being around a family member my entire life with an intellectual disability. After my first IMPACT trip, I learned more about the topic and it only made me want to get involved more. After returning to Athens, I decided to become a mentor for students at UGA with intellectual disabilities. People with disabilities are often left out and excluded from everyday things due to the lack of accessibility and accommodation. There are always things to learn about this topic to gain a deeper understanding and promote inclusion. I hope this trip will bring us one step closer to living in a world where people have equal opportunity to participate in everyday life and fulfill their desires regardless of their ability level.
Favorite IMPACT memory?
My favorite IMPACT memory would have to be during my disability/ability awareness trip in Mississippi at an organization called Hope Hollow. I spent my time with a child with autism. When I first met him, he did not say much or interact much with the other kids. However, as the week progressed he began to open up more. I was so excited when he said my name for the first time! I was there for him during his meltdowns just as welcoming and caring arms. I realized the simplicity of just being there for him and showing him and the people of Hope Hollow that I cared. I also enjoyed bonding with the people in my trip’s group as we cooked food and traveled together. Reflection was also one of my favorite parts. Not only did we get to talk about what we did that day, but I was also able to gain a deeper and larger understanding of it all. The happiness I gain from each IMPACT trip is what makes me want to experience it over and over again.