This month our Unstoppable Spirit is Dillon Lizaola. His life story is a testament to the transformative power of determination and dedication. From his early years in the UCP Parent and Me program to his current role as an Adaptive Physical Education Teacher, Dillon's journey is marked by inspiring milestones. Let's delve into his remarkable path, filled with growth, learning, and unwavering commitment.
Dillon's UCP journey began in infancy, where the nurturing environment and the guidance of figures like Debbie and Judy, at the UCP Parent and Me Program, played pivotal roles in his life. It was during his formative years, from kindergarten through 3rd grade, that Judy's influence left an indelible mark. UCP not only nurtured his fine motor skills but also instilled the confidence that would propel him forward.
Dillon's educational voyage led him through the halls of Monroe Elementary and Pioneer Middle School, where dedicated adaptive Physical Education (PE) teachers further enriched his development. As he entered his senior year, Hanford West High School became the stage for his next chapter.
A Return to UCP Parent & Me
Following his high school graduation, Dillon ventured into higher education at the College of the Sequoias. But his story took an intriguing turn when he circled back to UCP Parent and Me, this time as a volunteer under Judy's guidance. This experience, where he worked with children to enhance their fine motor skills and self-confidence, was both emotionally rewarding and a reminder of his own journey through the program.
From Volunteer to Teacher
Dillon's commitment to making a difference was unwavering. Two years of volunteering in the UCP program paved the way for a new opportunity – a paid position as a substitute teacher for the UCP Children’s program. His passion for empowering children with special needs grew stronger.
Higher Education and Challenges
Dillon's educational pursuit continued at Long Beach State College, where he majored in kinesiology with a focus on special needs children and adaptive physical education. However, the COVID-19 pandemic posed unforeseen challenges. Despite these obstacles, Dillon completed his degree online and embarked on the path to obtaining his teaching credentials.
A Dream Job Beckons
Kings County Office of Education offered Dillon a job opportunity, but it came with a condition – he needed teaching credentials. Determined as ever, he successfully obtained them and landed his first job with the County of Kings Office of Education as an instructional aide for the juvenile detention center. He also taught at Shelly Baird School in Hanford and briefly at Lemoore High School.
Realizing a Dream
Dillon's unwavering dedication eventually led him to his dream job as an Adaptive Physical Education Specialist. Since 2022, he has been serving students with special needs across Kings County, making a difference in communities like Lemoore, Kettleman, the Navy base, Avenal, and Hanford's high schools. His role involves teaching adaptive PE classes for individuals with diverse disabilities, creating individualized educational plans (IEPs), and tracking student progress.
Dillon's thirst for professional development remains unquenched. He aspires to earn a master's degree in either kinesiology or administration, with a long-term goal of transitioning into administration and becoming a principal. He proudly carries the title of "Adaptive Physical Education Specialist," underscoring his specialization in
gross motor skills.
Family and Future
In 2022, Dillon celebrated a significant milestone by getting married and welcoming a stepdaughter into his life. This new chapter is a testament to the courage, hope, and confidence instilled in him by UCP.
A Message of Inclusion
What Dillon would like the world to to know about people with Cerebral Palsy: "Give us a chance! Let us fail in order to feel success. We don’t know what success feels like unless we have the opportunity to fail.” His story serves as an inspiration, reminding us that with determination, resilience, and adaptability, we can all reach our dreams, just as he has. Dillon Lizaola's journey is a living example of how one person's commitment and unstoppable spirit can make a profound impact on the lives of others, and his future is filled with the promise of even greater achievements.
Now, you might be wondering how you can be a part of this heartwarming journey and contribute to the cause. By purchasing the UCPCC Ethiopian Roast from Rare Earth Coffee, you can support UCPCC, an organization that continues to transform the lives of countless people like Dillon, empowering them to reach for their dreams and passions.
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