How to Be a Friend to Someone with a Disability

Over the last month Mac learned about all types of special needs at school. His teacher, Mrs. Boggess, has forever made an imprint on my heart, and I believe Mac’s as well. I’ll never forget attending the information session at his school last spring. When Mrs. Boggess started to share about the Special Needs unit that she teaches each spring, my eyes welled up with tears. It felt like the perfect class for Mac since his brother has special needs. Indeed it has been.

Over the month of the March she taught her class about physical, vision, hearing, intellectual, and emotional challenges. The theme of the unit was How to Be a Friend to Someone with a Disability. She had special guests come to the classroom and teach them about each of these special needs. You can read more about them here. Nathan and I got to be special guests one day. And our friends Jan and her therapy dog, Callie, another day.

The students each had a turn to ride in the class wheelchair, Smiley, to and from lunch and specials. They’ve done trust walks to simulate a visual impairment and worn noise canceling headphones to know what it’s like to not be able to hear. They had special assignments like looking for braille. They asked a lot of hard questions and made a lot of new friends.

As part of this unit Mrs. Boggess asked the kids to participate in a fundraiser for Wheels for the World. Wheels for the World is a Joni and Friends ministry that sends refurbished wheelchairs to children in need all over the world. The students assignment was to come up with ways to raise money. You’ve probably seen a little bit of what Mac did on Facebook. He hosted a garage sale and lemonade stand. He also sold cross necklaces and baseball bracelets at Market Days at school last week. Thank you to everyone whose been a part of it. It’s been fun to see his heart grow in generosity for others. He’s also gaining an entrepreneurial spirit. Initially it was very exciting for him to be donating the money to Joni and Friends. Now he’s brainstorming ways he can make money to keep for himself or spend on more Beanie Boos. So no matter how you look at it, he’s learned a lot.

Each butterfly represents each dollar the students raised. The school was filled with butterflies.

Last Friday was a big celebration of everything the kids have learned about how to be a friend to someone with a disability as well as announce how much money they raised for the event. Collectively they raised $3,150 which is enough money for 21 wheelchairs!

What a special and memorable month this has been for my big kid. I know these lessons will grow deep in his heart over the course of his life. Thank you Mrs. Boggess. You’ve taught us both a lot.

My book, Beauty in Broken Dreams: A Hopeful Handbook for the Early Years as a Special Needs Parent, is now available on Amazon!

Also be sure to check out my list of Favorite Books on Disability!

#fundraiser #school

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