Abilities Awareness Week Proves Different Abilities are not Disabilities

Posted on 10/06/2017
Abilities Awareness Week Proves Different Abilities are not Disabilities

Becky-David Elementary hosted their 11th annual “Abilities Awareness Week” in September. With guest speakers, reading sessions with principals, and hands-on activities, students were able to further their sensitivity towards fellow classmates that have different abilities than their own.

“Our goal is to educate the students so that they have a better understanding of what each disability is and how it impacts a person,” said Lawanda Brewer, teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing. “In understanding the disability, we hope that our school community builds more understanding so that we can accept each other’s varying ability levels.”

The speakers represented a wide range of different abilities. Angie Ward, second grade teacher at Becky-David, brought in her daughter’s service dog, Fiesta. Madelyn Hubbs talked about being born with a single arm, her experiences with a physical limitation, and demonstrated how she performs everyday tasks. Andrew Tollefson, a student at FHN, shared a communication device he uses for speaking and a wheelchair for mobility. Kelly Behlman shared information about the Disabled Athlete Sports Association (DASA), and that athletes can have all types of different abilities.

This year, first grade classes received a visit from two Francis Howell North seniors, Jake Price and Peter Bennett. Both students (who attended Becky-David during their elementary years), are deaf and wear assistive hearing devices. They spoke with the students about what it means to be deaf, some of the challenges that they face daily, and how important it is for students with different abilities to advocate for assistive technologies.

“Understanding how a disability affects someone’s daily life helps to build empathy. When we understand others, we are more apt to interact because the fear is gone,” said Brewer. This was evident as the student’s inhibitions began to fade away. They asked questions and interacted with Bennet and Price as they ran through the American Sign Language (ASL) alphabet.

Price has been deaf since birth, but his parents didn’t find out until he was three years old. Bennett suffered his hearing loss in elementary school. Both wear hearing aids and rely on other assistive listening technologies, but this has not stopped either student from enjoying the usual school activities and pursuing a college education. Price is an editor of FHN’s newspaper and plans on attending Mizzou’s Journalism school in the fall. Bennett participates in Future Business Leaders of America (FLBA) and will attend Missouri S&T for computer sciences.

Price and Bennett, along with all of the speakers at Abilities Awareness Week, prove that different abilities are not always disabilities.

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