Overcoming Challenges

Logan painting at camp

Growing up, did you ever feel like you don’t belong? It’s typical for kids to feel this way at one point or another during their childhood but for kids with physical disabilities it happens a lot more often. For myself, I felt this way a lot in school. My name is Logan Stewart, and I am studying public relations at Algonquin College while working, as a public relations intern at Easter Seals Ontario. I also happen to have cerebral palsy. In this blog post we will be discussing the challenges, children with disabilities face in schools in regard to inclusion and accessibility.

When I first started thinking back to my childhood, the first memory I have of being in school is having to tell the teacher that a group of kids I wanted to play with wouldn’t play with me. I think that children without disabilities often lack education and exposure to kids with different abilities so therefore they don’t know how to interact. I think it is so important to teach children about disabilities and how they are just like them. They just need help sometimes.

“All I wanted to do was fit in and be able to play with my classmates.”

Children not only face challenges when making connections. They also can face challenges inside the classroom. A big example for me growing up was gym class. I remember when I would hear the teacher announce that we were playing dodgeball, and I instantly felt so small. Being a wheelchair user dodgeball was not very friendly to me. I also have a fear of sporting equipment flying around since I’m afraid of getting hit in the face because I can’t duck. I used to go to the very back of the gym and turn my chair, so it was facing the wall until it was over. Not only was it traumatizing but it was also embarrassing. All I wanted to do was fit in and be able to play with my classmates. I always felt like the odd man out. It is so important to make sure the children feel included when in the classroom because that way they can fully express themselves. When children don’t feel like they belong they don’t tend to open up or reach their full potential because their focus is elsewhere.

Another issue in schools is children with physical disabilities often don’t feel included. An example of this is during recess when all the children are playing on the play equipment those with wheelchairs can’t often use it and they just must sit and watch. This needs to change.

For children to be able to truly flourish in school we must make it a barrier free space. Children need to be able to feel like they can be themselves and the only way that is possible is if we make a difference in school systems. If we educate, take time to understand and be inclusive, it will make all the difference. Children with disabilities deserve the same love and compassion that you treat other children with. Check back soon for our next blog post on accessibility and inclusion in schools.

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