Accessibility is important in literally being able to get to school. But it isn’t everything. Access can be tweaked and small steps ramped if the school is willing. That is the key…being willing and accepting of a kid who does things a little differently. Last week we went on a somewhat scary tour of a mainstream high school. We listened to the principal and saw the facilities. We appreciated the ramps but were most impressed by the smiles. Smiles from teenaged students!
I now live with two teenagers and know they sometimes get a bad rap but they are not known for their cheerfulness. And the sunny looks happened not once but several times! In a world where my girl still has people stop in their tracks and stare, I was pleasantly stunned. As we had arrived the reality of transitioning to a whole new school hit hard. I was tempted to get back in the car before even trying. I know my girl so well but it takes a lot of time to teach all of her intricacies to others. And secondary schools can be prickly places for the most confident and able kid.
To succeed at school one needs to be able to communicate. Learning how missy talks takes some time and effort. And, of course, recognising a smart, funny person with a lot to say. Seeing a young lady not just a wheelchair. In class time much of this will be the responsibility of an aide. But peers are so important to time at school. And these students filled me with hope. For me, last week (and often) it all begins with a smile.