For people who care for children with disabilities …
Where does the time go? Summer was busy, fall breezed by, and now we’re heading into winter!
We went to the Special Olympics state competition this summer-what a humbling and amazing experience it was! I’d recommend going to your local Special Olympics events even if you do not have a child competing. There are lots of volunteer opportunities, and watching these athletes who compete is a treat all in itself. Jack won Silver in 25-meter freestyle! We’re thrilled and very proud of his accomplishments.
With October came Down Syndrome awareness month. I feel that this year was my best awareness campaign in the schools yet!
I really wanted to do something different and I really wanted to hit home…so I researched every website I could regarding Down syndrome. Even after doing this outreach every year, it continually amazes me how many resources are out there and how many people are willing to help. I ended up piecing information together from around the world, but the best presentation I came across was from Down syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City (DSG).
My main focus this year was an awareness push out to the 5th and 6th graders. Since Jack is in 5th grade now, these are his peers. I made the kids walk in Jacks shoes… be Jack for a few minutes. I want to share just a few exercises I did with them. If need be, I can send the whole presentation to you and you can personalize it for your own child or program.
Here’s what I did
I had each child wear an oven mitt. I handed them a pen with a cap on it, and I asked them to write their name on a sheet of paper. The laughter started (it was funny) and it was a great way to break the ice, but then I starting telling them that Jack struggles every day to write, and that we practice writing 15 minutes a day in the morning before school and 15 minutes after school! They couldn’t believe something so simple could be so hard — going good, right?
Then for the next exercise, I gave each of the students a big marshmallow to put in their mouth and then told them to tell their neighbors what they had for breakfast. No one understood each other, and again the laughter started until I said it is pretty frustrating when people don’t understand you!
I continued with a few more exercises and the kids were just great. I also sent home a letter with each child to their parents explaining what I talked to their children about. The BEST part was receiving over 10 phone calls from parents thanking me and telling me that for the last two days that was all their children talked about. I guess you can say it was a complete success!!! The principal even recommended that I speak to the junior high students. I also added a few more High Schools to my plate.
If you’ve done an activity or have a go-to resource, I’d love to hear about it. I will be happy to post some of your responses. Remember, there are tons of places, resources, and people willing to help.