Meet Youth Advisory Group member Maryjo

Image of a young woman smiling at the camera holding a small while dog.

The Youth Advisory Group (YAG) is a new initiative that provides very special siblings between the ages of 14 to 25 a platform to be heard. The group is made up of nine enthusiastic, motivated, and inspiring young adult and adolescent siblings eager to express their thoughts and ideas in bold, creative ways.

In this series, our Youth Advisory Group members have interviewed each other to learn a bit more about their day-to-day life experiences and time with Very Special Kids.

Could you give me your name, age, and current level of education? 
Maryjo (MJ), 24 years old, I have graduated from a Bachelor of Biomedical Science and am currently working as a medical receptionist. 

What is a fun fact about yourself?  
I’m a very artistic person who enjoys doing various types of crafts including origami, that I hope to teach many Very Special Kids members soon at the next family event. 

If you feel safe doing so, could you share a bit about your sibling and their story? 
My little brother James is the reason we became a part of and continue to be involved in Very Special Kids. He loved his Lego, Lamborghinis and Fast and Furious movies. Even though he was only 18 months younger than me, he would always protect me and stand up for me.  

He is and continues to watch over me from heaven. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2013 and passed away in 2015. We continue to be a part of Very Special Kids to keep his memory alive by connecting with other families who understand illness and grief. 

What would you say to other Very Special Kids’ adolescents thinking about coming along to an adolescent activity? 
My best advice to adolescents wanting to attend an adolescent camp or activity day is that no matter how nervous you may be to attend your first program, you will make friendships and memories with people that you will remember forever.