Rachel here with some tips to help you teach your kids how to treat other children with serious illnesses or special needs. We asked the Chief Development Officer from Victory Junction to share his thoughts about what kids with serious illnesses most want other kids to understand. Victory Junction sponsored this post.
As a parent, we have the very important job of shaping our kids into the people they will be in the future. Teaching kids to reach out to others, especially other kids who are facing different challenges, is so important.
Before I became a mom, I had the privilege of working as a special education teacher. One of the highlights of my time as a teacher was when I watched one of my students, a young girl who was confined to a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy, get asked to prom.
Her date had arranged for his mother, who was a nurse, to come with them on their date and help take care of her medical needs. For a girl who so rarely had the chance to socialize with other kids outside of school, that date was the highlight of her year. She talked about it for months afterwards and every time her face would light up.
It was amazing to see her get to experience something that was part of the typical high school experience. I often wondered what that boys parents did to raise such a kind, compassionate son.
Kids with serious illnesses or special needs often face major challenges but they are still just kids and they have the same hopes and desires as other kids.
As parents, we can teach our kids how to reach out to kids who are struggling with illness or special needs.
We spoke with Mark Schumacher, Chief Development Officer of Victory Junction. Victory Junction is a awesome camp in Randleman, North Carolina that provides children with chronic medical conditions or serious illness a life-changing camp experience in a medically-sound environment at no cost to the camper or their family.
Victory Junction has an amazing backstory. When up and coming racecar driver Adam Petty, son of NASCAR driver Kyle Petty, grandson of racing legend Richard Petty was tragically killed in an accident, his family created Victory Junction to honor his memory.
Victory Junction provides kids with serious illnesses a place where they can forget about being sick for a while and just be kids so we thought they would be the perfect people to ask for tips on teaching kids to reach out to children with serious illnesses or other differences.
Mark Schumacher, Chief Development Officer of Victory Junction, answered our questions…
What do kids with serious illnesses most want other kids to understand?
That they are kids! They have the same desires as all children for inclusion, acceptance, friendship and they like to have fun! While they might have obvious challenges, those challenges or disabilities do not define who they are.
It’s also hard sometimes to see an illness, disease or disability, so you never know what challenges another child might have. That’s why it is important to treat everyone the same. See the whole person not just their appearance.
What is the best way for kids to include kids with serious illnesses in their play?
Don’t treat children with serious illnesses like they are made of fragile glass.
They are tough and they will know their limits so there is no need to worry about them. A child will tell you what they can or can’t do, don’t make assumptions.
How can parents help educate their kids so they understand how to treat kids with serious illnesses?
Don’t shy away from children or people who are different. If a parent is at ease, their child will be as well. Acceptance is contagious.
It is also incredibly important not to walk on egg shells. If you have a question about a child’s challenges asks them about it in a nice, matter of fact way. It is frustrating to a child when people dance around their questions. They will give direct answers so ask those questions, just be thoughtful about it.
For details on Victory Junction and the activities they offer, request a free copy of the 2016 look book here.
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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Victory Junction.
Written by 5 Minutes for Mom contributing editor Rachel Lister. Rachel is a busy work at home mom who homeschools six kids and owns Busy Mommy Media.