Featured student: Emma Jarvi
Featuring some of our school districts' great high school students.
Bay High senior Emma Jarvi believes she achieved what she set out to do this month when she organized an Autism Awareness Week at her school.
“I think students at Bay High are now a little more aware of what autism is and how students with autism may be different, but that they should be accepted and loved for who they are,” she said.
Emma and her crew put signs up on the walls that expressed sentiments like “Autism is Awesome” and “Look behind the autism and you will see someone very special.” The signs expressed the positive aspects of being unique and seeing things in a way that is different from how others see things.
She also organized a concert to raise funds for Autism Speaks, a national group that supports autism research and advocacy.
“We had a great turnout for the concert,” said Emma. Four local bands, which included six Bay High students, performed in the Bay High cafeteria.
Emma works assisting her cousin, an occupational therapist, in providing exercises and activities for three autistic children. She plans to become an occupational therapist herself. She attributes her passion to working in this particular area of special education to growing up with another cousin who has autism. Emma believes there are many people around us who have autism or the autism spectrum disorder Asperger’s syndrome who have not been diagnosed as such.
Emma also serves as a student mentor to a Bay High autistic student as part of the school’s Pupil Assistance in Learning (P.A.L.) program. “We do a lot of out-of-school activities together, like going bowling or just getting a sandwich at Subway. Our group will sometimes have a dance for all our members,” she said.
She has also helped autistic children as a Game On Summer Camp counselor for five years, working with Shawn Stansbury, an intervention and autism specialist for the Bay Village Schools.
Emma is a member of Bay High’s National Honor Society, the school’s Team Africa and H.U.D.D.L.E., a group that mentors elementary school children. She has played volleyball for the Lady Rockets, and she enjoys working out at the gym, walking her dogs and hanging out with friends.
She and her parents, Jane and Aaron, as well as younger sister Jesse, have travelled extensively. Emma was a foreign exchange student in Spain for six weeks earlier this year and the family has most recently visited the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic.
Emma plans to attend Ohio University next year and will major in exercise physiology. She will then pursue a master’s degree in occupational therapy so that she can make a career of helping autistic children be successful.
“Autistic children have their own personalities, just like everyone else,” she said. “They can be really smart and funny. We just need to be respectful of our differences.”
Director of Communications for the Bay Village City School District