Reach for the Stars!


Last night I watched the movie, A Smile as Big as the Moon.  The movie was based on a true story of a special education teacher in Michigan and his students with special needs.  In the late 1980’s, this teacher and these amazing students attended Space Camp.  The classroom consisted of teenagers with Down syndrome, autism, cognitive delays and learning disabilities. They were the first ones to attend Space Camp and paved the way for many more children wtih special needs to attend this program.

I loved this story.  It was so inspiring.  Initially, they were told that Space Camp did not have any programs for those with special needs.  Their teacher didn’t give up.  He believed in his students and knew they could overcome any obstacle to reach their goals.

These students completed the same tasks at Space Camp as their “typical” peers.  They practiced and studied for 7 months to learn the skills needed to work together as a team.  They held fundraisers, took on part-time jobs, held bake sales and car washes to raise $50,000 to attend the camp.   They didn’t give up.

Too many times people assume those with special needs can’t or won’t be able to do certain things.  Never underestimate the power of the human spirit.  As therapists, teachers and parents, we need to encourage all children to reach the full extent of their capabilities.  Every one is different and has their own strengths.  We must encourage them all to reach for the stars.

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