REYNOLDSBURG, OH (WCMH) — As part of hands-on lessons in conjunction with Disability Awareness Month, 6th graders from Reynoldsburg City Schools STEM Middle at Baldwin Road students kicked off their study on disabilities by experiencing what it can be like to play sports with a disability.
Can you imagine being without some of your senses like sight, hearing or touch? That is what a sensory deprivation lesson in the gym was about.
Students were either completely or partially blindfolded and tried to kick a beeping ball. The idea is to challenge one sense to compensate for one that might be missing.
“You don’t know exactly where it is at because all you can know is the noise, so it is quite harder than you would expect,” said 6th grader Tucker Phillips.
He has a better understanding having worked with his father who is the Director of Special Olympics at the Franklin County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Ryan Phillips said 6th-grade students are at the perfect age for these type of lessons.
“I think that is why we were so excited to partner with Reynoldsburg City Schools and especially the STEM Schools as they are researching and diving into the field of disabilities,” Phillips said.
Noah Dulay is another 6th grader involved in the lessons.
“I had to focus on my other senses, so that made it a little bit easier, but it was still pretty hard,” he said.
Heather Gerbus is their Social Studies and English teacher. “Sixth grade is looking at unique circumstances and how that impacts a person and how we adapt based on those circumstances,” Gerbus said. “Today is our launch event for studies on disabilities. She said further into the quarter students will be reading novels where the main character has to adapt to his circumstances. She said disabilities are not always obvious. “We are also looking at hidden disabilities and language barriers and things like that.”
A major goal is student empathy.
“The biggest thing anyone should take away whether you are a student, teacher, is [that] a disability shouldn’t be seen as a disability. There is unique ability in every student, there is weakness and strength in every student, it is just where it is,” Gerbus said.