Jensen Beach – Jensen Beach High school seniors Hannah Nicely, Taylor Bennett and Jenna Martucci and others experienced exactly what it feels like “to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes “ during Disabilities Awareness Week April 30 to May 3.
Each of them spent their school days living with a disability such as being deaf or unable to walk and wheelchair bound to better understand how difficult life can be. David Lechner, president of Deekun Home Health Equipment Services, has volunteered his time and equipment for the past two years at JBHS to facilitate the program. “This year we delivered six transport chairs, four standard wheelchairs and some two and four wheel walkers for the students to use. We are glad to be a part of this program and I see the effect it has on the students,” said David.
Hannah Nicely, age 17, learned that disabled people often have to ask for help “because nobody really helps you. People don’t really notice you and they don’t reach out to help. My arms really hurt from trying to wheel myself around.”
Taylor Bennett, age 18, wore earplugs to simulate being deaf. She found that “people would come up and start screaming at me as if the volume of their voice would make a difference.”
Jenna Martucci, age 17, noticed that people would just stare at her but not offer to help in any way, like opening the door for her. “It’
The program is the brainchild of Conney Dahn, special needs teacher and the 2007 Florida State Teacher of the Year.
Conney is well known in the community for her 30 years of work with children and adults with disabilities. Each school year she has 30 to 40 students in her executive internship program who help her with the students and the class duties. Conney said, “One of the most important things we can do for a person who is disabled is to help them function in their community, hold a job and be able to help themselves as much as possible. But we also need to educate the mainstream population about people with disabilities and let them learn how to help them. This program educates students who will mature into employees or even employers and I hope that what they have learned here stays with them for life.”
Photo: (left to right) David Lechner of Deekun Home Health Equipment Services and Jensen Beach High School teacher Conney Dahn, look on as students Hannah Nicely and Jenna Martucci use wheelchairs during Disabilities Awareness Week at Jensen Beach High School with Taylor Bennett providing assistance.