Disabled Student Can’t Take Part In Class Hiking Trip, Teacher Refuses To Leave Her Behind & Devises Plan


Not everyone would go out of their way to help someone in need, but special-ed teacher Helma Wardenaar has kindness instilled in her bones. When one of her students was unable to take part in a class camping trip, she didn’t think it was fair that she should miss out because of her condition. So she set about concocting a plan.

Helma is the director of student services at Academy for Global Citizenship in Chicago, and every year the school arranges a camping trip. Over two days, the students explore the woods and hike, taking in the wildlife. It is a trip that her students look forward to all year round.’

But for little Maggie, it didn’t seem possible for her to join in on the excursion. Maggie has cerebral palsy which means she relies on a walker and a wheelchair. So a couple of days out in the wilderness, on uneven terrain, just wasn’t possible for Maggie. She would have struggled to keep up with the rest of the class.

Ms Wardenaar has taught Maggie since kindergarten and she felt it was important not to exclude her from the group. Determined to find a way, she approached Greg Coleman, who works in her local REI store. They tried to find a travel carrier or sling that could hold Maggie’s weight, but nothing in the store was big or sturdy enough.

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