Yesterday was my last day working with primary schools as part of my job.For the last three years, myself and a few different personal assistants (Pas) have been delivering disability training to children between the age of nine and twelve, and I’ve loved every minute of it. We’ve visited probably almost 50 schools and met around 2000 kids, (that’s a lot of pets for OJ!) No wonder he’s always so happy. I’ve been to parts of Donegal that I’ve never seen before, my geography is improving all the time. Feedback from the program has been very positive, and the children, teachers and staff have been brilliant.
This was definitely my favourite part of my job, and I wish it could continue. If we had the funds, we could be working full-time around the county, but that’s just not possible. At the minute we’re applying for funding so that I can bring a similar, age-appropriate program to secondary schools, and it would give me a job a couple of days a week for another year. If we get it, the work will be challenging and very different, but I think I’m ready for a change. Younger children ask the most amazing and funny questions, so I thought I’d share some of the ones that I remember being asked this year. Then you will see exactly why I loved my job!!
If O.J sleeps downstairs, how does he know when you want to get up? Does he come and get you and bring you downstairs?
Kid: Where do the puppies come from?
Me: O.J is a boy.
Kid: But where do the puppies come from!
Me: What do you need to allow you to park in an accessible parking space?
Kid: A car!
Me: Why might people choose to use either a guide dog or a cane?
Kid: Because they might be allergic to dogs.
Another kid: Or they might be allergic to the stuff that canes are made from.
We did two classes in the same school one day, and I could hardly keep up with all the children’s questions. They had lots of examples of TV programs and documentaries they’d seen about people with illnesses and disabilities. Fascinating to see children being so sensitive to other people.
One of the boys, who was really gentle and polite came up to me and thanked me for coming to the class before i left. He’d clearly been absorbing a lot of what I was talking about, and wanted to tell me a couple of things before I left. He told me that it was amazing and really cool how you wouldn’t really know that I had a disability. If I want something I just get it. When I take something out of my bag I just get it, and you would hardly notice that I had a disability at all.
He also talked about how difficult it must be when you get a disability and you aren’t born with one. It must be so much harder to adjust.
What an intelligent, mature kid!
And my personal favourite, both from the same school:
Small girl in junior infants:
“Does O.J poo?”
Older boy in the same school:
“If you’ve been blind since you’ve been very young, you don’t remember what its like to be able to see, right?
So how do you know how to smile?”