Local elementary school supports disability awareness

In Healthworks, many of us got some very sweet hand written letters from kids at a local elementary school. They were asking us to pay attention to a very special day at their school, disability awareness day.

This is a day where they are learning something you can’t necessarily learn in a book. We are talking about awareness, empathy and compassion.

They are walking, writing, reading and moving in an entirely different way.

Fox 2: How is it being in a wheelchair?

School student: “Very hard, very hard, I don't know how people in wheelchairs do it.”

It's disabilities awareness day for the students at Marie C. Graham Elementary in Harrison Township, a fun, interactive workshop that leaves a serious impact.

After 10-year-old Sylvia Clark went through the workshop last year, she looks at people with disabilities differently.

“If it's hard for them you can say I understand, I feel your pain like it's very hard,” said Clark.

The effort to teach empathy really ramped up here a few years ago, because of a special student.

“He was in a horrific accident as a toddler and half of his body was burned,” said Lyndsey Lawrence, Graham Elementary teacher. “He was covered with skin grafts and he also lost one of his arms. We noticed we needed to help our students empathize with him.”

So, special education teacher Lyndsey Lawrence found this program that was created in the late 90's by two metro Detroit moms of kids with special needs. It's working, not only raising awareness, but acceptance.

“Students with disabilities tell us thank you now the kids understand what I go through,” said Lisa Kowalski, creator of the disabilities awareness workshop.

Quinn Corbin is excited for her classmates to learn about dyslexia, which she has.

“It helps when they know you can't get rid of it and you live with it your whole life because it's reading,” said Corbin.

Some of the struggles are very obvious, but the students also learn about challenges you can't see, like learning disabilities.

“When you have a child in a wheelchair or a child with a learning difference who are suddenly so confident about themselves that's why we do it,” said Kowalski.

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