Today, Rachel's class had a field trip to a water festival, a day geared for education about water as a resource. The day involved traveling outside from tent to tent, learning about water, the outdoors, and taking care of our planet. The kids seemed quite interested in the sessions, particularly the one on beach safety because they could talk openly about poop... e-coli.
Certainly, it was a day to learn about water, but it also brought a surprising lesson to Rachel's class. As classmate Thomas pointed out, there were no other kids in wheelchairs at the festival - there were at least 30 different schools present -and kids were staring at Rachel out of curiosity.
I had noticed at the start of the trip that Rachel was distressed. This was not a normal school day for her, and because she had traveled on an accessible bus, we were waiting for the rest of the class to arrive on their bus. Without her teacher and classmates surrounding her, she seemed confused as to what was happening. I assured her that the class was coming, and when they arrived, they greeted her with cheer.
I asked the class to take turns coming alongside her, to remind her that we were all here together. The class didn't really need that reminder; instead, there were minor squabbles about having to share Rachel.
When Thomas mentioned that kids were staring, I realized, for this group of kids, Rachel and her chair and her feed pump are already normal. In seeing the stares of other kids, Rachel's classmates caught a glimpse of what Rachel experiences always.... and so today's water education experience also included a lesson in empathy.
* * * * * * * * * * *
In other news, Janneke recently had a piece in the annual Niagara Children's Centre School Art Exhibit. Here is the artiste with her piece.... pointing out her favourite: