A Note to Nora’s Recess Buddies:
I am told by Nora’s nurses, and Mrs. Jackson, that at the start of the Calvin Christian school year, a small group of students met with Nora, during recess, to discuss ways to include Nora on the playground. Because Nora is non-mobile, and most playgrounds are not built to support her wheelchair, this can be exceptionally challenging, not just for Nora, but for all children who use extra equipment (like a chair or walker) to play on the playground.
As you know Nora is non-verbal, but somehow, this group was able to work with her to list a few of Nora’s favorite activities: walking in her gait trainer and kicking a ball, blowing bubbles, reading books in the grass, swinging on the adaptive swing Mrs. Jackson recently ordered for the playground, and coloring (just to name a few.) In one creative lunch meeting, under the guidance of Mrs. Jackson, this group was able to discover so many ways Nora can play on the playground.
From what I understand, as this group began to include Nora, more and more students wanted to be involved with helping Nora play. So many so, that eventually, Mrs. Jackson hosted a lunch time informational meeting for the upper grades, and started a “buddy” sign-up sheet for students who would like to be Nora’s playground buddy. I am told the sign-up sheet (which was started in November), quickly filled up — well into January.
When I asked Nora’s nurses about the roles and responsibilities of a “buddy” I was told that Nora’s recess buddies 1) help Nora wash her hands before going to the playground 2) use Nora’s picture/ communication board to help her choose a recess activity 3) push Nora’s chair 4) support Nora playing with her peers on the playground. When I talk to Nora about her day, and I ask her, “did you have fun with your friends today?” She answers with a big smile, puts her hand to her mouth to say “Yes!”
Thank you for taking the time to be a recess buddy and friend for Nora. Nora (and family) have enclosed a small gift for you, and the rest of Nora’s buddies —a purple awareness bracelet that says “Aicardi Syndrome.” Nora would like you to know that Aicardi Syndrome is part of what makes it so hard for her to walk, talk, eat on her own, feel strong and healthy, and even stay awake long enough, on some days, to play on the playground. But Nora would also like you to know, that having friends, especially friends who show up, every school day, to help her do the things she cannot easily do for herself, is a big part of what makes having Aicardi Syndrome not so bad. In fact, friendship is a big part of what makes Nora’s life, and most people’s lives, absolutely wonderful.
Thank you for being a kind, loving and caring friend to Nora. Merry Christmas!
Mrs. Van Leeuwen and family