During the first 20 minutes of each school day, every classroom in my school does Pride morning meetings. Pride is a school-wide initiative to promote student success by addressing social and emotional needs while building a sense of community within our school. This year, I have gotten more involved in planning the topics and curriculum for Pride. One of the topics we are going to cover is differences and disability awareness.
I’m currently working on the lesson plans, which I will share in a future post, but while I was researching these topics, I found an essay contest hosted by Social Security Disability Help of New England in 2012. You can read more about the contest here. I was so inspired by these essays that I just had to share them. I tend to write about more of the challenges and research aspects of our field, but today I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on why we do what we do – to help individuals communicate, build relationships, and fulfill their potential as healthy, happy, productive members of society. The students who wrote these essays clearly have had excellent role models – parents, teachers, SLP’s, etc – to teach them how to be empathetic, caring friends to those to are different than themselves. Or perhaps children are born with these skills innately and we adults could learn a few things from them. Either way, enjoy these beautifully written essays.
New England Disability Awareness Essay Contest Winners- Grade 2
First Place Essay
By: Dillon N. from Massachusetts
About My Brother
My twin brother, Mason, has a disability. It is his cleft lip and palate. He also has a prosthetic eye. His old eye had to be removed because it had no pupil and didn’t work. He is also deaf in his left ear. He is great because he sometimes helps me spell words. He is also great because he is a wrestler. We are on a wrestling team together called the Black Flies and I sometimes wrestle him at practice. He is one of the smallest kids on the team. One time during a “King of the Hill” competition, he beat five boys in a row, including me. At the end of the match, all the big kids lifted Mason up off the ground and onto their shoulders. They carried him around the gym while everybody cheered. I felt good that he beat five kids. I think he was really happy, too. He surprises a lot of people that he can wrestle with one eye and ear. I love him a lot.
Dillon donated his winning prize money to the Smile Train.
New England Disability Awareness Essay Contest Winners- Grade 3
First Place Essay
By: Kyle W. from Massachusetts
New England Disability Awareness Essay
My friend Matt has Autism. These are some things that are hard for him: making friends, science, art, and physical activity. It’s hard sometimes to be his friend because he interrupts people. Physical activity is hard for Matt because he doesn’t always behave or follow directions.
When you get to know Matt he can be really nice and kind to you. Matt is just like a normal kid and always goofy and funny. He really likes me because I’m goofy too. Matt is a good friend of mine.
Matt is good at so many things too. Matt is great at the piano and math. Matt is really smart and talented. He is the best at math in the class. When I’ve heard Matt play the piano, he concentrates a lot and makes beautiful music. I could never do that.
Matt has to go with special teachers and work even harder than I do. Matt has to get taken out of classes to go to other classes and learn additional subjects. This year he even had to move schools for his special work. That must have been really hard for him because he misses his friends.
Matt inspires me because his life can be unfair sometimes, but he keeps trying and never gives up. He teaches me to always try and never say I can’t do it. Matt is my friend and I’m proud of him that he keeps going forward. I miss him a lot.
Kyle donated his winning prize money to Autism Speaks
Did anyone else need to reach for a box of tissues? I can’t wait to do an essay contest with my school this year. I’ll be sure to share the winning submissions!
Thanks for reading!