We often forget the number of fun outings that children with disabilities miss out on at school, but thanks to a big-hearted teacher one little girl confined to a wheelchair did not miss out on fun with her class.
Ryan Neighbors has spina bifida, a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don’t form properly. Ryan has already had around 40 surgeries.
When her school organized a trip to the Falls of Ohio which involved hiking along a rough trail, Ryan, who was then 10 years old, knew she wouldn’t be able to go.
Prior school trips had kept Ryan’s needs in mind but this particular one, organized in 2019, was something that she definitely couldn’t take part in – or so she though
Teacher Jim Freeman. who teaches the 4th grade class next door to Ryan’s class, approached Ryan’s mom Shelly and said he was happy to carry the youngster during the field trip so she wouldn’t miss out.
“He was like ‘Hey, I’ll carry her, no big deal’… He was so pure-hearted that he wanted to make sure that she was included and not left out and she got to feel like one of her peers,” Shelly said.
So, with the help of a backpack carrier, Jim carried Ryan all the way along the trail, giving her the opportunity to enjoy all the things her classmates were enjoying.
Shelly took to Facebook to share the good news: “Thank you Christie Pile for giving me these backpack carriers, making this possible for Ryan. We are sooooo blessed to have an ENTIRE school that is so compassionate and empathetic and NEVER make her feel left out.”
Ryan loved being part of the big adventure: “When I got to see the fossils and stuff, I was like, wow, that’s like really cool! I haven’t gotten to see that before,” she said.
Jim said this was one of the many ways they helped Ryan to do all the activities her able-bodied friends got to do at school: “This is just one physical act that you can see, but we do this countless times throughout the school day and throughout the year.”
It’s so important that children with disabilities get to experience as normal a life as possible and here we have the perfect example of a school that is doing just that.
Thank you to all the staff at Ryan’s school who make her life so much more fun through their hard work and big hearts. Please share.