For the past few years, I have been speaking to children about my life as a person born with one hand. It’s something that I enjoy tremendously and something that I get more out of than I give. How the speaking began was totally by accident:
I have always been a parent that volunteers to help in my child’s classroom. When I volunteer, I’m always on display – “the Dad with one hand”. No biggie… I enjoy it. However, one day when I was volunteering I seemed to be doing more harm than good. All of the children in my daughter’s second grade class were more interested in figuring out why I had one hand than listening to the teacher. I didn’t want to be a distraction, so I asked the teacher if I could have five minutes before recess to address the class and let them ask me questions. She was very gracious and allowed me to speak to the class. It went very well, so well in fact that since that time I have been asked to come back and address other classes and schools.
I still use the same theme in my speaking that I came up with on the fly that day. Here are the points I like to go over:
- I ask the class if they notice anything different about me. I love kids because they are not shy, and hearing “you only have one hand” all at once and pretty loud is very entertaining.
- The next thing I ask is what they think I can’t do because I have one hand. Also very entertaining are the answers I get to that question, and I answer them all truthfully. Most of the things they bring up I can do without a problem. Things like tying my shoes, doing push-ups, bouncing a basketball – those types of things – and I show them exactly how I do it. When they bring up something I may not be able to do (and that list escapes me), I tell them I have no problem asking my friends for help.The biggest surprise for the children and the teachers is when I’m asked if I can write with both hands, because I can. If you want to see how, book me to speak for your children.
- I ask how they thought I was treated when I was their age by other children. Generally, they say that they think I was made fun of. I tell them that people tried, but that you can’t fun of something about a person that the person likes about themselves.
- I thank them for the opportunity to spea k to them. I let them know how lucky I am to be speaking to future Senators, Doctors, NBA Basketball players, Veterinarians…whatever they want to be.
It’s a very interactive talk that generally takes between 30 to 40 minutes.