Sunday, November 6, 2011
And Now.... For Something Completely Different
We divided into three groups to make it more manageable. Then each group (of about 30 people) was counted off into two groups. One group of 15 teens donned earplugs, two eye masks, and heavy headphones for impairing their senses of vision and hearing.
In the hallway, the other group of fifteen were told how they should treat the impairees. The impaired youth were led around the building carefully and maneuvered around obstacles. Then they were given tasks to do and snacks to eat - all with respect.
Then, the tables were turned; the guides then put on their own set of sense-impairing earplugs/headphones and masks while the former impairees were instructed how to treat those who had taken their place. They led them around roughly, dragging them and then leaving them alone for a moment. Their faces were tickled by feathers, hand sanitizer put in their hands, and they were given a different set of tasks to complete as well as a different snack.
In some small way they were able to appreciate how hard it is to feel these things, and how important it is to respect those with disabilities. During this experience Tyler experienced his usual aversion to church and tried to throw up in order to get out of being there.
We discussed Tyler's likes and dislikes, gave a brief background of the challenges he's faced, and then discussed ways they could interact with him. If nothing else, our main goal was for them to have a greater compassion for those with disabilities and to see them as real people just like them.
Later, Mr. O ran into one of the youth's parents at our local store, and they related something their daughter had observed. She said, "When we see Ty again...when we've died...he will recognize us and know that we helped him and served him."
There are plans for the kids to come over and take turns hanging out with Ty while he is in his body cast (surgery is the Monday after Thanksgiving), and it warms my heart to see them "seeing" him differently. Tyler is not someone to be feared because he is differently-abled, rather he is someone to love and learn from.
He loves the same books, music, and junk food that they do. He is more like them than they ever realized.
I look forward to having these kids in our home, giving of their time and talents to help Ty through what is going to be a very difficult recovery. People are very, very good.
My thanks to those from USDB who gave of their time to help this simulation happen.