Recently, Stone Ridge Christian School (SRCS) in Duluth, Minn. had a special activity day focused on living with physical challenges.
In 2017, approximately 37.2 million people in the US reported having a hearing disability, 22.9 million folks reported vision trouble, and 18.2 million people reported finding it very difficult to walk 1/4 of a mile, according to cdc.gov. Ten percent of the total world population (roughly 650 million individuals) live with a disability of some sort.
In 2017, Duluth, Minn. records 12.5 percent of its population as physically challenged in some form or another, according to disabled-world.com.
In order to heighten the students’ awareness, and engender sensitivity to the challenges faced by others, they participated in a full day of activities as if they themselves faced those same challenges.
According to Rudy Carlson, head teacher at SRCS, he added Physically Challenged Day to his regular curriculum in 1996. The instructional objective, “is for the student to experience a challenge applied to each area of the curriculum. The student then demonstrates his or her empathy towards those who are physically challenged by writing a reaction paper at the end of the day describing the difficulty of each task.”
Students learned about the difficulties involved in reading if you have dyslexia, glaucoma or anathropy. In math, they struggled to use a calculator without using their fingers to press the keys, while art featured painting using feet instead of hands.
Even snack time came with a challenge: their job was to eat everything on a plate and drink everything in a cup while their arms were restrained. This particular activity came with a prize for the cleanest plate.
Over the years, Carlson has amassed enough wheelchairs in various sizes for each student to experience the problems inherent to tight corners and not enough space to maneuver easily.
Carlson reached out to the church’s homeschool population and invited them to attend for the day. “I appreciate having our homeschool kids join us on all our special days, and have made it a habit to invite them to everything we do. Homeschool and church school are not mutually exclusive, but rather mutually beneficial. We support our homeschoolers in every way we can,” Carlson said.