Chicago charter school Academy of Global Citizenship takes their fourth graders on an annual two-night camping trip, which gives students a rare opportunity to observe frogs and examine animal prints in person. Special education teacher Helma Wardinaar, didn’t want her student Maggie Vazquez to miss out because she has cerebral palsy and couldn’t take her walker or wheelchair on the hike, so they got creative to find a way to include her on the three day hiking trip.
“I really believe that everybody should enjoy [the trip]," Wardinaar explains. "If we provide this to our walking students then Maggie should be just as much a part of our community. We have students who have learning disabilities or speech problems or medical issues and we say, ‘No, we’re going to try.'"
Maggie’s parents and employees at local outdoor stores brainstormed for solutions because they knew the rocky terrain would be nearly impossible for Maggie on her own. Eventually, they tried a Freeloader Child Carrier, which Wardinaar wore on her back and carried Maggie in. It was hard work, but they made it work and the amazing teacher says she was sore, but “a hot shower does wonders.”
As for Maggie, she says she was “really joyful” that she had the chance to participate and go on her first camping trip.