Birmingham Virginia offers more than world-class health care. Service opportunities to help others are available daily at the medical center. For more than 25 years, opportunities to inspire Alabama’s teen community have opened doors that connect young people to volunteerism.

For 2022, we are proud to have Bryson Gause, the first autistic teenage student, participate in the Summer Youth Volunteer program.

Youth Ambassador for Autism Acceptance Walk

Gause is an autistic teenager extraordinaire who attends Midfield High School in Birmingham. He enjoys playing the piano, running, playing video games and even has his own YouTube channel.

Last April, Gause was the Youth Ambassador for the first annual Autism Acceptance Walk in his hometown. There he spoke at the event and led the parade. Prior to the walk, he appeared on local television where he shared his experience with autism, hoping to “gather support and better understand people with autism”.

“I don’t think of autism as a disorder,” Gause said. He explained that he just had a “different way of learning”. His parents reinforce this perspective, encouraging him to always do his best.

“Veterans have given so much. I want to show that I am grateful.

Summer Youth Volunteer Program

Gause applied for Birmingham VA’s Summer Youth Program and was selected. The program provides teens with opportunities to achieve success, provide meaningful service, and grow. The program is open to all high school, junior and senior students interested in clinical and administrative medical fields who wish to gain experience.

This summer, Gause is working in the medical center’s Red Clinic with Red Coat Ambassadors. They welcome patients and caregivers to VA, answer questions, give advice and screen for COVID. When he applied to the program, he said it would be an honor to help and serve veterans because his grandfather served in the Air Force.

“Because veterans have given so much for this country, I want to show my appreciation and put a smile on their faces,” Gause said.

Encourage other parents to involve children

Charmel Taylor, head of the Center for Development and Civic Engagement, says her vision for this addition to the program is that other parents of qualified children who have different abilities will be encouraged to get their children involved. She explained that these opportunities could lead to future employment. There are exceptions to the traditional competitive hiring process where people with different abilities can apply and be hired for various positions.

“Bryson is an exceptional young man with a bright future ahead of him,” said hospital director Dr Oladipo Kukoyi. “Today’s youth have endless potential and this program not only benefits our student volunteers, but also our employees. I always challenge our leadership teams to find ways to engage employees and this initiative exceeded those expectations. »

VA Careers in the Family

“You could say that working in the medical field is a family heirloom,” said Bryson, who follows in the footsteps of her grandmother and father, who worked and currently work in VA, and her mother, who is a nurse. .

Within VA, Gause has a place to grow and develop her skills while giving visitors a chance to benefit from her bright personality.