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Student, graduate, teacher, advocate

A familiar face as fifth grade explores the disabled community

The teacher introduced the guest with a question:

What do you already know about Mr. Watkins?


Students knew he worked at Gordon as a substitute.
Students knew he worked at Gordon after school.
Students knew he'd gone to Gordon.
Students knew he was really smart and good at chess.
Students knew he had worked at the PawSox.


Today, they learned something new about him, as Mr. Watkins told them about his twenty-year involvement with New England Disabled Sports. 


He shared footage of himself skiing with his family, talked about the mission of NEDS, and fielded every question they threw at him.


Students wanted to ask about gear, about upper body strength, about real snow versus artificial snow, the conditions at Loon Mountain, and about wipeouts, and about the new visibility that sports for disabled people seems to be enjoying these days.


The visit was part of the fifth grade's yearlong study of the movement for disability rights.


Along the way, students will meet authors, activists, teachers and organizers, in person and over Zoom, from the national community of disabled people.


It's important to understand the scale and history of any community.


That's especially true of a community as diverse as the disabled community.


But it's also important to have a personal connection with a community.


For these students, that connection deepened a little today as they spent an hour with Mr. Watkins: disabled skiier, teacher, Gordon graduate, chess partner and friendly face. 



2020: fifth grade meets with Bob Williams and Lisa Vallado, two advocates for adults with significant disabilities link

2015: fifth grade meets with Sam Drazen of Changing Perspectives link

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