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Miracle in the Gym

Discussion in 'Inspirational Stories' started by poundsasson, Oct 11, 2006.

  1. poundsasson

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    Oct 11, 2006
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    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
    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
    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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