by Melissa Brunner
Our latest Leadership Greater Topeka session brought us to Easter Seals Capper Foundation for part of the day. I'm involved with their marketing committee and have hosted their Evening as a Child event the past couple years, but this visit was a bit different. It was the first time I went through their ability awareness exercises.
The first one we tried is one of the more obvious challenges some people have - using a wheelchair. We were asked to move ourselves up one of the smaller inclines in their building, then maneuver our way back to where we started. The short jaunt made our arms ache, not to mention wondering if we already had blisters on our hands. I've watched many of the children at MDA camp make their way around the woods in their chairs and have seen the Wheelhawks play basketball - and I have even more respect for what, to them, is just the way they happen to live.
Our next exercise involved following instructions to draw shapes and letters on a paper and seeing the many different final results! Not everyone interprets things the same way. We also had to read a list of names of colors, only they were printed in a different color - for example, the word "red" was printed in yellow. Our brains had to interpret two conflicting messages.
For our next task, we donned special glasses that simulated vision impairment and tried to toss a ball to each other - not so easy! We also were asked to read a sentence - also, not so easy!
Our final challenge was to look in a mirror and use the image to draw a line through a star-shaped maze. Mine looked like a seismograph! I would look at the image and know I needed to move my hand one direction and it simply would not move! It just didn't make sense.
We shared a lot of laughs over our inability to complete the tasks with much grace, but the sobering reality is this - these are challenges that many children (and adults) live with every day. The people at Easter Seals Capper Foundation are just some of the many who work to help them adapt and thrive and reach their full potential. Spend a few moments with any of the kids and you'll soon learn that their potential is limitless! Capper's latest effort is a "Lose the Training Wheels" bicycle camp for children with disabilities, coming up in June. Before then, you can support their work by attending the Evening as a Child fundraiser April 30. Details on those events and how Capper might be able to help your family can be found at http://capper.easterseals.com.