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2004-01-21 The Oxford Leader

School News
What's it like to be disabled?

Carter Cornell, Reika Bickel and Marissa Medina learn how blind people use their sense of touch to identify objects. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio.
It’s often said the best way to understand someone different from yourself is to walk a mile in their shoes.

But what if in order to do that you had to confine yourself to a wheelchair or use crutches or wear a blindfold?

Fourth-graders at Oxford Elementary spent Jan. 14 learning about various disabilities and participating in hands-on exercises that allowed them to experience first-hand what being handicapped feels like.

Sponsored by Oakland Schools, the “Disability Awareness Workshop” helps students develop “empathy” for the disabled be they classmates or relatives, according to Teacher Consultant Kristi Weinert.

“The focus is on how they can help people who have disabilities” by allowing them to experience some of the same everyday challenges, she said.

Students learned about physical and learning disabilities and vision and hearing impairments.

Michael Fredricks learns what it’s like for a wheelchair-bound person to use the school’s drinking fountain. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio.
Oakland Schools provides all the equipment while a combination of parent volunteers, para-professionals and teachers conduct the workshop.

“It’s very eye-opening for the children and adults,” Weinert said.

This is the second year OES has participated in the workshop.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader.
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