This past weekend I was fortunate enough to get to spend it in Raquette Lake with other students from SUNY Cortland as well as a group from the Wildwood Program. The Wildwood program is a not-for-profit organization that offers a variety of services to people with disabilities. They offer formal private schooling for people aged 3-21, but also continue to provide service to people who are older. One of the many services they offer is providing people of all ages and ability levels a chance to engage in recreational activities. They help people with disabilities to become involved in their communities and give them a chance to participate in activities they enjoy. All of the adults we worked with this weekend are part of the Wildwood program and choose to come to Raquette Lake for a vacation. They paid with their own money to come and spend the weekend with us playing games and spending time in the wilderness. When I first found out about this I was a little intimidated thinking I better come up with some fun games and activities to play with everyone. After meeting everyone it was clear that I could use many of the things I had learned in my classes to make this weekend as fun as possible for everyone. We have learned a lot about inclusion games and making small modifications to games so everyone can participate. During this weekend having the skill to modify a game on the spot was crucial to make sure everyone could participate. Sometimes the modification was as simple as doing a small demonstration first so everyone would understand. Some of the other easy modifications we made were making the playing area smaller or making the distances in the games shorter. This got m thinking about when I will be teaching in the future and how knowing how to do this will be very beneficial. Even if there are no students with disabilities in my class being able to do this for students who are less skilled will also come in handy. This weekend has taught me that over planning is the best thing one can do. It has also taught me that if the games or activities you are trying to teach are not going as planned it is okay to stop and make some adjustments so they do work.
When out in the schools it will be very possible that I will be working with students who have disabilities and this experience has taught me a lot. I have learned that it is imperative that we see the person before the disability. Sometimes we are too quick to label and judge people with disabilities and by doing so we may not see all they are capable in. This weekend I saw people do things that I wouldn’t have expected them to be able to do. I am very glad I got this experience because it taught me a valuable lesson that will make me a better person and educator. Over the weekend I learned that assuming things about someone based in their ability is something that is easy to do but should be avoided at all costs. The disability does not define the person each and everyone has their own personality and it is important to see that and learn what the person is really all about before jumping to any conclusions.