On January 15, 2008, Tammy and I met with the #4 Girl Guide Troop, Vancouver. We met at General Gordon Elementary School in Kitsilano, where the Guides and their leaders invited us to talk about disability issues.
I really enjoy doing these kinds of educational presentations, as they give me an opportunity to show off some of my skills as a PADS Assistance Dog and also give our audience a glimpse of how a person with a disability lives. I am certainly the most interesting example of Tammy’s adaptive equipment!
Tammy starts by introducing herself, her personal assistant – and me – I sit pretty until it’s my time to shine – and then she shares some of her experiences about what it is like to live with a disability. I like it when she tells the funny stories. She also talks to the kids about how important it is to see the person with a disability as a PERSON first and to be aware first of common humanity, and the things shared by people everywhere. She talks about differences too, but shows disability as yet another aspect of diversity.
Then she educates the children about cerebral palsy, and the some of the challenges it can bring. She demonstrates this by showing how she uses her adapted cup holder and camera tripod to enjoy her favorite activities of drinking a cup of hot chocolate at Starbucks and photography. Then it’s my time to shine. I demonstrate how I am used as an adaptive tool to assist Tammy retrieve an item from the floor and help her take off her sweater. The kids are always so amazed. After this demonstration, Tammy gives the audience the opportunity to experience what it might be like to live with a disability through empathy building exercises. She gives the children oven mitts to wear which restricts their ability to use their hands and fingers and then has them do an activity that requires finger dexterity such as writing, buttoning up their jacket, or operating their Ipod within a time limit. After this activity, Tammy asks questions about the task and whether they found it easy or hard. She also generates discussion around other ways in which we adapt and perform activities in our daily lives and in what ways we can support people with disabilities at school and in the community. Finally Tammy gives the children an opportunity to ask questions about the presentation. The kids want to know about me and the PADS program as well as more questions about Tammy and her experiences living with cp. It is always so much fun! Next month we are doing presentations in Langley and Delta.
Submitted by Breeze “Woof” “Woof”