Mitzvot from the heart: Alyson Yawitz

Kaitlyn (left) and Alyson Yawitz.

Compiled by Elise Krug

Alyson Yawitz, Congregation Shaare Emeth

Alyson Yawitz feels that an important part of becoming a bat or bar mitzvah is doing a mitzvah project. Daughter of Julie and Greg Yawitz of Olivette, Alyson did two different projects. Volunteering at the Ladue Early Childhood Camp and Summer School program for two weeks was the first project. “This was especially meaningful to me because both my sister and I attended there,” said Alyson. “During the morning session or group, I was in a special education room, which was a summer school class. It was a group of eight to 10 kids depending on the day. My job was to help the teachers, make sure the kids were using their time to the fullest and that they were learning and having fun. All the teachers were adults in that class so I would run around with the kids on the playground, and the way their faces lit up was just the greatest, most heart-touching thing! The kids in the class were mostly diagnosed with Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy or Autism. And, once you get to know them, you really do realize that they are just like any other five-year-old kid. All they want is to make friends and have fun!”

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In the afternoons Alyson spent her time with typically developing two to five year olds. “The kids were great and even though they were sometimes a little whiney or cranky, I loved them anyway! I will never forget that experience!” she said.

The second project for Alyson, a student at Ladue Middle School, was a fundraiser in honor of her sister Kaitlyn, who has autism. The Yawitz family has had an Autism Speaks walk team, Kaitlyn’s Crew, for the past seven years and Alyson has been involved every year.

She sent letters to all her friends, inviting them to attend and asking for a minimum donation of $10. There were games, snacks, karaoke and lots of fun. “It was simple, but fun, and it gave me a taste of what it is like to plan a fundraiser,” said Alyson. “Plus, I was able to help our team raise over $1,000.”

– Mitzvot from the Heart is compiled by Editorial Assistant Elise Krug. To include your child’s bar or bat mitzvah project, contact Elise at 314-743-3671 or [email protected].