College Admissions Essay: My Contribution to Disability Awareness

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My Contribution to Disability Awareness It's 8 o'clock in the morning and the corridors of Mill Road Elementary are busier than Grand Central Station. The only difference is that Mill Road students are about a foot shorter and ten times more energetic than your average Grand Central Station commuter. In comparison with the dorm room I have just left, these walls are papered with hundreds of drawings and paintings. The hallways could compete with any modern gallery in terms of sheer bulk and some critics might argue for their content as well. However, I did not wake up at 7 o'clock to view the Mill Road Elementary prized art collection. Instead, I am there to present the 3-step Disabilities Awareness program to several classes of supercharged fifth graders. Standing in front of 30 or so fifth graders is a lonely position. I feel the burden of all teachers and start my presentation. It is a difficult curriculum to teach to fifth graders because of the many contradictions and situational circumstances. These fifth graders are sharp and ask questions whose answers could easily fill the rest of the year's class time. It is for this same reason that the presentation is such an enjoyable program. A ten-question quiz, designed to "pop" some of the myths about disabilities, is given to the students. The class discusses ideas about independence, differentiating between disabilities and emphasizing that the person comes before the disability. The quiz is an icebreaker that encourages the students to ask questions that pertain to the whole disabilities spectrum. Once the students begin to feel comfortable, I am flooded with questions. Students are able to expand their knowledge on a variety of disability-related issues. The real challenge is to help them change their perception of people with disabilities. Students have to be convinced that a disability is a limitation and every human has his or her own limitations. A disability is not a sickness someone can catch like a cold. When the students begin to see that we are all equal, then the Disabilities Awareness program has really done its job. The students are stubborn at first to new ideas but, after challenging them, they begin to see the truth behind these ideas and start accepting them. The second and third presentations are follow-up visits that seek to reinforce the same ideas presented in the first session using different activities.

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