“My brother has Cerebral Palsy”
This was a statement that one of my 6th grade students made to the class today during a presentation. As we near the end of the school year, many students are presenting their “big” research projects to the class. I always like these days because the kids work so hard preparing and practicing for their big day in front. Earlier last week a girl gave one of the most informative presentations I have ever listened to on the topic of octopi. She fielded questions from the class like a tenured professor in marine biology. It really was a site to see.
The kids are choosing what they research and present on as part of my student driven classroom push this spring. So when the female student came to the front of the class today I was not completely sure what she would be presenting. I knew she had researched cerebral palsy, but I had not seen her presentation yet. She is one of those “good” kids that works hard with minimal need of redirection from a teacher.
During the course of her presentation an image can up on the screen of a young boy in a wheel chair. She introduced the boy as her brother and said, “My brother has cerebral palsy.” Those five words touched me in the frank and open manner in which she stated them and then elaborated on them. She went into great detail on how the disease affects people and what is being done to help find a cure. You truly could have heard a pin drop in the classroom. Once she finished her presentation, the other students in the class opened up and asked questions that were both personal and yet appropriate. The student fielded those questions with poise and pride which was a really neat thing to see.
Yes, I know kids all over the world deal with disabilities or family members with disabilities. However, I was happy with this student for not only talking about it but sharing it in a very proud and public manner. She obviously felt safe enough in the class to share what some would not. The reality of a junior high is that kids can be mean. They have been known to make fun of other people for being different and often those associated with them. I tip my hat to this young lady and hope she never loses that pride in her family as well as that feeling of comfort among her peers.