This week our family is away at Family Camp and so I’m having some people do some guest posts for me. Meghan is one of my favorite people in Austin. She’s a teacher, and I would be the happiest mom ever if she was my kids teacher, but she’s in a different district, so it’s not even an option. Although I can dream. Meghan loves God and is passionately pursuing him. She also loves my kids and anyone that loves my kids is someone that I love too! Meghan will sometimes randomly text to come and get Story to hang out with and my sweet girl loves Meghan. Here’s something from Meghan. Show her some love by leaving her a comment.
About 2 months ago, one of my sweet students asked to borrow one of my books on Helen Keller to take home and read. When she returned it I asked her how she liked it and she said (remember that she is 7) “I loved it, but thought it was really kind of sad.” *Teachable moment* I say, “Tell me what you thought was sad.” Student replies, “Well, she was blind, deaf and mute and her life must have been very hard. I bet people weren’t always nice to her because once I saw a blind man on the street and this other man walked by him and said ‘You’re a loser!’. The blind man didn’t even say anything, he just took a deep breathe and lowered his shoulders. That must have made him feel very bad.” Just on the brink of tears, I told the little girl how perseptive she was and how she could use that experience to treat people with disabilities in a better way.
Now, 2 months later my class is studying biographies and last week we studied the biography of Helen Keller. I find studying Hellen Keller with 7 year olds to be a particularly important time in our year. It is a time when they can learn a lesson that doesn’t really have to do with academics, but hopefully will affect the rest of their lives. You see, I have a sister who is partially blind, deaf, mute and severely autistic. I shared this with my students last week and jaws dropped. Of course they’re shocked, the story of Helen Keller just became a little more real to them and this is what I want. This does not offend me in any way. They are naturally curious about Amanda, my sister. They ask so many good questions like:
1. Where does she live? With my parents
2. How does she tell you what she wants? Using a communication board with symbols of what she needs
3. Does she ever get angry like Helen did? Yes, she does. How would you feel if you were unable to communicate what you needed or wanted or how you felt? It would be pretty frustrating. (They all agreed)
4. What does she do for fun? She likes to go for rides or sometimes swing on the swings outside.
5. Does she ever run around the backyard? Why, yes, yes she does.
6. Is it hard to take care of her? Yes, it is very hard to take care of her. Lots of things have to be done for her.
And so on and so on. You see, sharing this bit about my life has opened a whole new world to my students. They just learned a lot about an ADULT (key word) severely disabled person and what their life really looks like. Amanda of course, has similarities to Helen Keller, but is not nearly as high functioning at all. It is good for my students to know that even low-functioning peoples with disabilities have value and worth. It is good for my students to know that people learn and communicate in all different ways and that all learning and communicating does not have to look the same.
This conversation/discussion with my students brought absolute tears of joy to my eyes because these kids are our future. The questions and responses make me oh so hopeful that our world is about to be one of much more tolerance, acceptance and love for people of all different abilities. As this up and coming generation gets older the more knowledge and comfortableness they have with people of all different abilities, the better people of all levels of abilities can function and perform because there will be more opportunities and less negative stigmas.
I just love my students and can’t wait to see the people they will be in 15 years.
Meghan McCamant is a daughter, sister, friend, teacher and CASA. She loves all things Austin, getting lots in a good book and sitting around a fire with drinks and good friends