Friday, May 27, 2011

Speaking of…

Today I spoke to about 75 third-graders at Glen Lake elementary school. During my speech, I told them my story and talked to them about staying positive no matter what. I also told them that it was okay to befriend someone with a disability and ask questions if need be. Then I shared with them about my title and me being Ms. Wheelchair Minnesota. After about a half an hour into it, I opened it up for questions. About two thirds of the kids eagerly raised their hand in curiosity. I spent another half an hour answering all sorts of questions from "how do you eat" to "can you feel or move anything" to "were you wearing your seatbelt" to "how many people were in the car."

At one point I was explaining my disability and that I'm paralyzed and that I'm just like everyone else only I do things differently. I was also talking about how there are many things that I can't do due to my disability. Usually I follow that with sharing all the things I am able to do. Before I got to that I called on a brave little girl in front of the group who asked my favorite question of the day which was "so, what can you do?" I was surprised that she got to it before I did but I was happy to answer.

This was my fourth time speaking at Glen Lake and I really enjoy doing it. I went there when I was younger from second to sixth grade. Even a few of the same teachers are still there. When I was done and waiting for my ride it was lunch time so there were many kids were passing me. Two years ago I spoke there to third-graders and a year before that I spoke to first-graders. The third-graders are now in fifth grade and the first-graders are now in fourth grade. It was very interesting because a lot of them remembered me and stopped to say hi, which I thought was really cool.

The school wants me to come back in the fall to speak again. I would also love to go to other elementary schools to talk to and educate children about people with disabilities. I get so much joy out of teaching them and it feels good to know that I am making a difference. This is something I wanted to for as long as I'm able.

If you have any place or event you know of that I could either make an appearance or speak at (as Ms. Wheelchair Minnesota) please share with me! I'm willing to go anywhere within the Twin Cities area. I look forward to your comments.



A Veiled Connotation said...

I <3 this post.

Children are soo incredibly inquisitive. I am training to be a primary school teacher, although want to go into SEN.

On the second placement I went on, I was in a Y3 class - the teacher talked about a particular famous blind man. The children were so interested, but unfortunately the teacher wasn't able to answers many questions! So I done a session on braille, and we made our names in braille.

It is amazing to see how intrigued they are!! I've done sign language & other aspects ever since.

Hannah Reeves said...

Thank you so much for creating this blog, I love reading your posts, they are so incredibly empowering and have really inspired me, thank you. Check out my blog, created for people with wonderful stories like yourself: hope you enjoy it:)

Anonymous said...

Hi Jenni, my firend Matthew Smith suggested I check out your site, it's really inspiring and I wanted to say I think you and you're attitude to life are amazing. We need moer people like you to advocate for people with disabilities and make them seem so much less scary and more approachable. Starting when children are young and open is so important.

Steph said...

So proud of you. Great blog entry! :) Keep em comin sister.

Anonymous said...

Have you thought about sending a letter to the other elementary schools in your area to see if they would like you to speak? You have some great references and I think your message would be very powerful.
Good Luck with the National Miss Wheelchair competition. We will be rooting for you!

stephey said...

I truly feel the most valuable lesson anyone can learn is to focus on what WE CAN DO instead of what we can't. It's those "i can'ts" most people spend their entire lives trying to overcome and some stay its prisoner forever - mama what a prison it is. thanks for this post!