Connect Four

When Annabelle learns that her summer camp is traveling to volunteer at a school for children with disabilities, she is scared of what she will think. But what happened was beyond anything she could imagine. Based loosely on a true story.

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1. I Will

 

After bus, train, and trolley, we had arrived at our destination. It was a large brick building with a ramp up the front. There was a tall bell on the top, but it looked like it didn't work anymore. We walked up the stairs into a large vestibule. Inside was a clammy coolness, the kind you would find in a doctors office. There was a wooden desk with two heights. On the right, there was a lower desk, and closest to us, was a higher desk. A smiling woman handed us name tags. Annabelle, I wrote on mine. We got led down a hallway into a large, open room. There were a few tables, but more importantly, children. A few were over in one corner, watching a movie (with closed captioning), and a few were at a far table. There was a girl playing connect four over in a far corner, and nearest us, another girl. All of these children had cerebral palsy.

 

Cerebral palsy, as described from www.cerebralpalsy.org, is a "neurological disorder caused by a non-progressive brain injury or malformation that occurs while the child’s brain is under development. Cerebral Palsy primarily affects body movement and muscle coordination. Though Cerebral Palsy can be defined, having Cerebral Palsy does not define the person that has the condition." A woman greeted us.

 

"Thank you so much for being here, everybody. What you have to understand is that none of these children chose to be this way. So, when you use words like "retarded" it is unfair to them, and it is simply hurtful." Everyone remained silent. I felt a lump in the back of my throat. I swallowed. "Remember, these are children just like you. You will be painting bags and playing games with them today. Now, this is Emily. Now who would like to work with her?" No one stepped forward. Our group was quiet. I instantly felt extremely guilty. How would I feel if I were Emily? What if no one wanted to work with me? So I broke the silence.

"I will." I said.

 

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