GRANITE BAY (CBS13) — It’s a lesson local students won’t find on any computer or inside any textbook. They’re finding out what it feels like to live with a disability.
“It was really difficult at first but then I learned how to do it better,” one 6th grader at Ridgeview Elementary School in Granite Bay tells CBS13. She had just finished attempting to maneuver a wheelchair.
The organization putting on this program, A Touch of Understanding, brings volunteers who are disabled—face to face with the students. The program involves kids putting on prosthetics, trying to use a wheelchair, and walking blindfolded with a cane.
Sandy Puleo, who’s been in a wheelchair since childhood, says the program’s goal is to change lives. “My reason for being here is if I can stop one child from being teased and bullied like we were when we were younger–or just being stared at–I’m good–and we do that every time we show up here.”
Perhaps the biggest impact of the program involves the kids putting on headphones to hear what a child living with Autism might hear—on a daily basis.
The audio recording states the following: “They hear the wait staff clearing tables– They hear the woman a woman 10 feet away rummaging through her purse– They hear a fire truck outside–they hear people walking to their seats.”
For all of the children who went through this program—they walked away with the knowledge and the empathy to feel what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes.