Henderson Continues Tradition of Annual “DisAbilities Awareness Week” with Message of Respect and Understanding
It’s always important to learn to be respectful toward each other at a young age, no matter who we are, or what challenges we face. The students at Henderson Elementary were reminded of this message when the school celebrated its twelfth annual “DisAbilities Awareness Week” on Nov. 14-18.
Martha Hefner, occupational therapist at Henderson, organized a week full of fun activities and guest speakers, where the kids learned about all different types of disabilities, and how individuals work to overcome them. “The main goal of this event was for students to learn to treat others how they would like to be treated,” Hefner said.
One of the most prominent themes throughout the week was for students to realize that having a disability doesn’t mean that someone is less capable of achieving a goal. That’s information that everyone should keep in mind when they encounter someone with a disability.
“All people have abilities, even if they have a disability,” Hefner said. “Even though everyone is different, we are all the same in many ways, and we all have a heart, and feelings.”
The lessons and events covered a substantial variety of topics, including Down syndrome, physical impairments, support dogs, cerebral palsy, and the blind culture.
Although each lesson dealt with a different topic, they all still had the same message. “It’s never okay to make fun of someone who is different from you. There are some disabilities that you cannot see, and some that you can, so you need to treat all people with respect,” Hefner said.
The students not only heard a lot about the different disabilities, they also got to experience hands-on what it’s like to live with one.
In gym class, students performed different activities to see what it feels like to live with a disability. They also got to meet a support dog who, together with his trainer, showed how life-changing (and fun) it can be to have the help of a support dog.
At the end of a successful week, Hefner felt like the kids had learned some amazing life lessons. “Many of our students were touched by the daily challenges that people with disabilities face every day,” she said, and was excited to announce that Henderson will definitely continue the tradition of this important and highly educational week in the future.