Ocean Springs Children Discover Challenges Of Disabled

OCEAN SPRINGS (WLOX) --  From tying your shoes to turning the pages of a magazine, these simple tasks can become pretty difficult if your hands are covered with socks. Try buttoning a shirt with no fingers.

"You're unbuttoning it? Is that easier or harder?" a teacher asked a student.

"Harder," he replied.

The Exceptional Day at Oak Park Elementary allowed the Ocean Springs students to feel what it's like to have a disability.

"The children are doing hands-on activities to give them an idea of what it's like to not have complete use of one hand, to not have complete use of your legs, to not have complete use of your eyes and your ears," said Lori Kossitt, a Pre-K Special Education teacher at Oak Park.

Students experienced blindness by catching a ball with their eyes covered. Others wore glasses smeared with Vaseline to get a sense of having a visual impairment. And they learned about having a speech impediment by singing with a mouth full of marshmallows.

"I want you to sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat," a teacher told the students.

The children tried to sing, but it sounded muffled.

"I could not understand a word y'all said," the teacher responded.

"It's really hard for people with disabilities," said nine-year-old Maggie Wakham. "I didn't recognize how hard it could be."

"It's hard. It hurts your arms," said eight-year-old Allie Randall, as she tried to push a wheelchair along the sidewalk.

Understanding the daily challenges facing the disabled is a lesson both children and adults can appreciate.

"I'd really feel upset, because I probably wouldn't have any friends," Allie said.

"I would feel lonely and left out, because I wouldn't be able to play baseball or basketball," said nine-year-old Darin Catchot.

"We all have our strengths and we all have our weaknesses," Kossit said. "Maybe they can help their friends, and to be more sensitive."

The students also learned communication skills, like American Sign Language and Braille. And they got a sense of what it's like for kids to go to school with a learning disability, like Dyslexia.