Sunday, November 28, 2010

Perfect Event

We had our first volunteer activity on Saturday and it was perfect. One of the students organized a trip to Daegu where disabled people play at sport that is a bit like Bocce ball.

We were greeted by a man in a wheelchair.  His arms, and legs were contorted.  His face was contorted when he spoke and was really difficult to understand.  You could see how stressed all the kids looked. As he speed off in his wheelchair (that seemed to be rocket powered) one student said to me, "my heart is beating so fast".
The people who could throw for themselves, did.  The ones who couldn't had these ramps to let the bean bag/ball roll down.  Two of the kids were responsible for moving the ramps.  They had to just listen to the commands of the players and do what they were told.  Then, they would have to help the players hold their ball.
The disabled people (who are referred to as "clients" by the center who organized the event) were remarkably good at this game and incredibly good natured. The guy who met us turned out to be a silver medal winner for Korean Special Olympics which explains why he was so strict about enforcing the rules. He also turned out to be pretty funny.

Naturally they wanted Sandy and I to play against them and predictably, they beat us.  I cannot say that I gave my all, but I am reasonably sure they would have beaten us anyway.  Later, they asked my kids to play.  As much as I like them, I have to say they were really, really bad at this game.

During the break time one man decided to tell his story of how he ended up in a wheelchair.  He was an engineer at an architectural firm.  They gave him a motorcycle as a bonus, he wrecked, had 10 operations, was getting better, something went wrong in the hospital and ended up with physical problems, and by his own estimation, limited mental abilities.  Quite sad, and perfect for kids to hear.

As things began to wind down, one woman needed eye drops put in and the kids were happy to put them in, the other wiped her face. The kids had gotten past being afraid of people with disabilities to jumping quickly to help them. They saw them as people, not freaks.

The participants wanted some group pictures at the end, and by looking at their faces, I think you can see that the kids coming to the event added greatly to their day.

As we were walking out, I asked the kids what they thought.  One said she wants to come every month.  Another said this was a precious memory, another said at first she was scared of them, but now she had fun and liked them.

I cannot think of anyway that this could have gone better.  The kids organized it, they did something good that made somebody else happy, they will likely do it again, and the way they see disabled people has changed. Damn am I proud of them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful story! Very inspirational and heartwarming. You all are doing great things!