Following a presentation by the Disabled Access Friendly campaign to the elementary school on 16th November 2011, please find below feedback from the school's director, the presenter and a student. (Photos)
Dr. Roxanne Giampapa
Director, Pinewood “The American International School”, Thessaloniki, Greece
"Sophia was a genuine pleasure to host for our Elementary students. There was great anticipation about her presentation and I can say with certainly that each child's excitement was fulfilled. There are many small facts that the students got out of the talk, such as the meanings of the various handicap signs that they see in their daily lives. However, the most valuable thing that the children received is an awareness of this group of people and the important message that they are just like us--with talents, intellectual achievements and personalities. In a nutshell, as one student said, "They are just like the friends that I have now."
The students were engaged in the powerpoint that Sophia showed, but they really enjoyed the group activity where they had to find the mistakes in the pictures. They really loved going to the microphone to share their pictures and talk as "experts" on appropriate disabled access.
Overall, it was a marvelous presentation and we are grateful to Sophia for sharing her knowledge with us. You can visit our website at www.pinewood.gr for a short article about Sophia's visit and a wonderful photo of the Sophia with our students!"
Presenter, Disabled Access Friendly campaign
"First of all I’d like to thank Roxanne for being so welcoming and helpful!
The first part of the presentation was a huge success as the children were very interested in what was being said and very eager to participate, comment and answer questions. There were different age groups so the responses I got varied from cute to more serious ones which made it very interesting!!! At some point I wished I could write down some of the things the kids said. Maybe next time! All children were adorable. The power point took up most of the time as the kids were very interactive and willing to share their ideas and experiences !!! When we finished with that, I got a big round of applause!
After that, the children were split into groups of ten and they were given the posters with the pictures where they had to find the mistakes. They were all very enthusiastic about it as they also had to pick a representative of the group who would talk on the microphone about two of the mistakes they’d found. All groups had a go and then they were given a sticker to put on their shirt and the Etiquette to show and talk about it with their parents.
Overall, I think the talk gave them a lot to think and talk about and I’m sure that they will spread the word as they all promised!
Something which struck me as really special was what a girl said. During the presentation of the photos of the bad practices and after each photo, I asked them how they thought a wheelchair user would feel in that case, for example when a car blocks a disabled parking spot. I insisted on them using adjectives. I got responses such as sad, hurt, disappointed, mad, angry, confused. Then, at the end, a girl raises her hand and says angrily, “It’s not fair to make people feel like that! It’s just wrong!!!” …………And that’s why I love doing this
Thank you Katie and Paul for giving me this opportunity again and Roxanne for having us and letting us spread the word on the Disabled Access Friendly Campaign!"
Interview with Catalina, an 8 year old student at Pinewood “The American International School”, Thessaloniki, Greece
"Was there anything that surprised you?
I was surprised by the fact that there are people with no disabilities but they park in places marked for the disabled. Also, I was surprised by the fact that despite their disability those people learned how to swim without their feet.
Was there anything that shocked you?
I was shocked by the fact that people are not nice to those who have disabilities, they treat them badly, they try to avoid them instead of trying to do something good for them.
What did you learn?
I learned that:
1. disabled people are not different from us and are very brave because despite their disability they keep on going and don't lose their courage
2. people should be more careful where they park, how they talk to the disabled and treat them in a nice manner.
3. cars should not be parked too close one to another so that people in wheel chairs could pass through.
4. disabled people can play sports like us but in slightly different ways.
What issues has it made you think about?
It made me feel how lucky I am to have everything I need: my sight, my ability to walk everything.... I started to appreciate my life more than before the presentation.
How did you feel when you put yourself in the place of a wheelchair user?
If I had been in a wheelchair I would have felt very sad but I would still try to enjoy life the way it is.
Are you more aware now of problems wheelchair users face?
Yes, I think I know better about the problems faced by the people with disabilities. The biggest problems are related to their access to public places. There are many buildings that don't have ramps for the people in wheelchairs.
How do you think you can help spread the word about making things easier for people with mobility disability?
I am only a third grader so what I could do is to speak to other children and tell them about the problems faced by people in wheel chairs and ask them to spread the word about it as well."