Monday, January 24, 2011

Include Me

A few weeks ago, I posted about Ella's inclusion classroom. I got quite a few good responses but particularly enjoyed this one from an anonymous friend. Want to read it? Here it goes:

Way back in the late 70's, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, my mom signed me up for my only preschool experience. It was a research study through OSU that was (I think) part of the beginning of the inclusion classroom movement. In my class there were deaf children, blind children, kids with various developmental and learning disabilities, and the 4 'normal' kids. (imagine that - ME a normal kid!) I remember being paired with different kids for specific tasks. I remember enjoying my time with the deaf children very much. My best friend was Joel. He had Down's syndrome, and I loved him. We laughed a lot, as 4 year olds will do. I remember helping him with climbing on the jungle gyms and following directions. I remember him helping me to draw; he made the most amazing pictures! He could draw anything I asked him to draw. Though I don't know what ever happened to Joel, I still have some of his artwork.
The lessons that I learned over those 2 quarters of preschool when I was 4 years old I still carry with me:

If I can help people, I should. Plus, I like to.
Everyone comes to life with their own set of talents and needs - even me.
We are all in this life together, and we all can make it through if we remember that.

31 years later, I am a nurse. Some of my dearest patients have been Down's / deaf. I am not afraid of the communication barriers or the behavior. I always volunteer to take care of them and I consider it a privilege.

Ella is a sweet kid, and she is extremely intelligent. The lessons about unconditional love for people that she learns in her current educational environment will serve her well for the rest of her life. This experience will teach her things she may not fully grasp for a long time. That's okay. She will use them anyway.

I picked up Ella from school the other day. She was jumping up and down and bursting at the seams to tell me about Jason* who had gotten a green card that day. A green card is the best you can get for behavior in the classroom. Jason had never ever gotten a green card for behavior and he is the child with the most limitations in the classroom. She said he was so happy and clapping and said he was going to tell his Mom and Dad when he got home. I asked her if she told him he did a good job. She said the entire class cheered and clapped for him and gave him a group hug.

Too sweet. Me likey.

*Names always are changed unless I know the parent/kid enough to know they wouldn't mind being blogged about

Need a good cry? View the video. Not sure what you're watching? Wait until he takes his helmet off at :47


Alice ~ Folk Art Primitives said...

Well, Miss Annie ~ you know of all people who read your blog, I probably am the one most touched by this! My son, Tad just turned 46 in December ~ I know how wonderful that football team is to give this young man that thrill of a life time!!! Thanks for such a sweet post! Aunt Alice

Tori :) said...

I love everything about this post, even though it made me sob. Your friend's story (and I'm pretty sure I know who said friend is, too) and all the nice things about Ella started it all off. But that video, oh my. I knew before he ever took the helmet off, just by the way he was running. This was a wonderful and terrible thing to do to a former special ed teacher! I wish all "regular" ed kids would be as nice and kind as Ella and this football team.

Tori :) said...

oooh.... i'm not as smart as i think i am. was wrong about the friend, or so she says, anyway.

oh and, btw, you made Granny Lanny cry, too. nice going. ;)

Arlene said...

If humanity were more like those football players, then humanity could rightly claim that is in fact humane.
Tori is as smart as she thinks ;-) I, however, am a little slow on the uptake because I have not been on the computer for most of the day.

Con said...

beautiful, from beginning to end!