Thursday, April 05, 2007

Poetry about children coping with disabilities

On this day in 1887, Helen Keller first made the association of finger spelling with language as her teacher spelled out “w a t e r.” In honor of this incredible moment, share the following poem written by Samantha Abeel, a thirteen-year-old girl with severe learning disabilities. Writing became a way for her to share her feelings and to shine with her gift for words.

To a Special Teacher
by Samantha Abeel

When the sun rose
from under its misty veil,
you were there to watch,
like the birds over the sea.
When the wind came quietly
and rested in your ear,
you listened, as the earth would at dawn.
When the rain fell,
you reached out with your hands
and let it wash everything away,
like waves as they grasp the shore.
When the plain brown seed was planted,
you could already smell the fragrance of
the flower that was to come,
and you were proud
as a good gardener should be.

Thank you for believing
that there was a flower waiting inside
and for taking the time
to help
and watch it grow.
When the sun rose
from under its misty veil,
you were there to watch,
and I am thankful.

From: Abeel, Samantha. 2001. Reach for the Moon. New York: Orchard.

Other poetry that captures the perspectives of young people struggling with disabilities includes:

Akaza, Norihisa. 1994. Smell of the Rain, Voices of the Stars. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace.
Brown, Dale S. 1995. I Know I Can Climb the Mountain. Columbus, OH: Mountain Books & Music.
Stepanek, Mattie. 2002. Heartsongs. New York: Hyperion.
Zimmer, Tracie Vaughn. 2007. Reaching for Sun. New York: Bloomsbury.


Anonymous said...

FYI - April is also disabilities awareness month.

Sylvia Vardell said...

Thanks for pointing that out. I'm so glad I was able to make this connection!