Bucyrus Elementary staff participate in Disability for a Day program

Bucyrus Elementary School staff members had the opportunity to participate in the “Disability for a Day” activity during the school’s first professional development day Friday, Sept. 14. The activity was developed and run by Crawford County Board of Developmental Disabilities (CCBDD).

The CCBDD developed this activity to help raise awareness for developmental disabilities. Some of the Elementary staff members had little to no experience with any type of disability entering the simulation, despite having worked with students with disabilities.

“I have never had any kind of impairment, broken bones or surgeries,” Elementary Music teacher Sarah Martin said. “I was excited for this activity because I knew it would give me a very basic idea of what it’s like to have a disability.”

“I have worked with students with disabilities for a long time,” Intervention Specialist Laura Williams said. “It was an enlightening experience to put myself in someone else’s shoes.”

Elementary School Principal Timothy Souder participated in this activity earlier in the year. His experience led him to contact CCBDD Director of Community Services Kimberly Kent about offering the program during the school’s first professional development day.

“Mr. Souder felt that it would be a good activity for the elementary teachers and staff to participate in to help raise their awareness for the students that they work with,” Kent said. “We met several times with him and his administration to develop an activity for what he wanted to simulate.”

The program began with an overview of CCBDD services, along with an emphasis that the simulation is designed to help enhance the understanding and awareness of those with disabilities, and by no means does trying on a simulated disability give the full understanding of actually having a disability.

“I think this was an incredibly important activity because it gave us (participants and non-participants) a small glimpse of the challenges faced by those with specific disabilities,” Intervention Specialist Ashley Hale said. “My hope is that this simulation has helped my colleagues and I be more empathetic and understanding of our students with disabilities.

The disabilities that were simulated during the activity included: Macular degeneration, Spina Bifida, Muscular Dystrophy, Tourette’s Syndrome, Deafness, Cerebral Palsy, Huntington’s disease, Traumatic brain injury, Epilepsy, Prader Willi, Autism, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Blindness.

“Awareness is important for everyone because we are busy trying to complete the tasks that we are assigned that we forget that we are working with human beings,” Kent said. “Whether they are children or adults, typical or have an impairment, they are people and deserve the right to learn and live in the community and to be treated with respect and honor.”