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Teen Leadership II Participates in Disability Exercise

Yasmine Munoz

Yasmine Munoz

Daja Dansby, Editor

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Standing in line at Chick-fil-A as she’s done a million times before, senior Daliyah Burke found herself anxious to order. She could not respond to her classmates’ jokes, nor the questions of the employees, in fact, she couldn’t speak at all. That day, Daliyah was deaf.

“It’s hard because you have to act like you don’t hear anybody,” Burke said. “(Some) deaf people don’t talk so I had to communicate through hand gestures.”

Burke, along with other students in Teen Leadership II, participated in a disability assignment by spending the day with an adopted handicap.

“October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, so this is a great time to participate in disability day,” teacher Heather Colburn said. “It’s a way for our students to increase their empathy and understanding of our disabled community.”

For part of the day, students went to eat to put their impairments to the test.

“Chick-fil-A was super helpful; they’ve always been awesome,” teacher Heather Colburn said. “They look forward to us coming because they appreciate the life lesson because it’s something they honor too.”

Junior Madison Meyer took on the role of a paraplegic by using wheelchair.

“I never realized how much I use my legs,” she said. “Not being able to walk from class to class was a real eye opener.”

The students’ disabilities included being blind, deaf, mute and paraplegic.

“The struggle is to stay in character,” Colburn said. “For example, the student assigned to being blind wants the relief of being able to open their eyes and see again but the reality is that if they were truly blind they wouldn’t have the opportunity. Honoring their disability all day gives them a unique perspective.”

Participants were encouraged to stay true to their disability all day.

“I tried not to go out of character because I wanted to feel what they feel every day,” Burke said.

The point of the exercise was for students to put themselves in the shoes of their disabled peers in order to gain more knowledge about their experiences.

“I got to see how people with disabilities actually live,” Meyer said. “This opportunity has made me a more sensible and understanding person.”

Burke said that the experience was an insightful one.

“We need to be thankful for what we have,” she said. “After an hour (of pretending) I felt like I couldn’t do it; it showed me how strong they are. Everyone has some strength in them.”

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Teen Leadership II Participates in Disability Exercise