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11-Oct-2006, 17:51 PM
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Enrolled: Oct 11th, 2006
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| | Miracle in the Gym
Miracle in the Gym
By Kimberly Ripley
Doesn't it seem a bit cruel to send a child in a wheelchair to
physical education class? That's what I used to think until I
found myself eavesdropping on a class one day. Steve Schulten
Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/inspirational-stories/14337-miracle-in-the-gym.html
has been the physical education teacher at Little Harbour
School in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for many years. Popular
with the parents as well as the children, Steve is known for
his energy, his compassion and his love of teaching. When my
youngest child, Jonathan, started kindergarten, he could hardly
wait until "gym day," and together we would cross the days off
his calendar, one by one. My daughter Elizabeth attends the
same school. And she, too, has a fondness for Steve and for
the gym class. On our way home from school one day, she
mentioned something that struck me as odd.
"I got to push Tyler's wheelchair in gym today," she said
"Tyler goes to gym class?" I asked, completely astonished.
This boy's senses were severely impaired. Unable to speak, how
was he supposed to gain anything from this gym class? I was
certain that this constituted some kind of abuse, but trusting
Steve and the principal of our school, I kept my big mouth shut.
A few days later, I arrived a little early when picking up my
kids. Wandering through the foyer, I realized my daughter's
class was in the gym. Yes, this was in fact "gym day," and I
was in the perfect spot to peek through the door and see what
they were doing.
What I witnessed was a miracle in the making. As the class
participated in their relay race, my daughter approached the
boy in the wheelchair. When his turn came, she pushed him with
all her might to the other side of the gym. Although the boy
never seemed to notice, something even greater than that was
happening. Reaching the other side of the gym, my daughter and
some of her friends surrounded Tyler's wheelchair immediately.
"Way to go, Tyler!" they exclaimed. "Was that fun, Tyler?"
another one asked.
They hugged him and patted his shoulders in congratulations. I
don't know if Tyler felt their touch. I don't know if he
enjoyed the wind on his face when his wheelchair was pushed
quickly across the gym. And I don't know if he experienced fun
or laughter inside his quietude.
What I do know is this: The other children in that gym class
were making miracles happen. They were showing evidence of
complete tolerance in a world of discrimination. They treated
this mentally and physically challenged boy the way they would
like to have been treated. In return, they were learning
compassion. And they were learning a form of communication
that is so natural and innocent coming from young children.
They were learning to communicate with their love. For
although Tyler was unable to speak with words, something about
Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/showthread.php?t=14337
him told these kids that he knew love and could understand its
Steve watched all of this as though it was an ordinary day. I
hid behind the door so no one would see this misty- eyed mother
as she eavesdropped on her daughter's gym class.
I don't know if he is aware of the lessons he has taught these
children. In addition to instructing them in the rules of the
games, and in the importance of good health, physical fitness
and good sportsmanship, he has allowed an aura of joy to be
created inside that gymnasium. He has made sighted and hearing
children feel right at home with a child who cannot see and
cannot hear. And he has fostered their sense of compassion.
In the future, when this man looks to his retirement days, I
pray that one child or one parent will laud his accomplishments
enthusiastically. For throughout his many years of teaching
physical education, he has been responsible for far more than
stronger muscles and agility. He has taught his students to
maintain healthy hearts, both physically and emotionally. A
gym isn't the first place one would imagine for the teaching of
compassion. Yet at Little Harbour School, both this teacher
and his students get an A-plus.
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