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Children experience coping with handicaps, disabilities

Date Posted: 2006-11-17

School children received a firsthand experience in the frustrations of being handicapped or disabled when they participated in an experiment this past week.

The kids, in a project sponsored by Okinawa General Bureau, visited Naha Airport to learn what those with disabilities or handicaps experience in daily life. The youngsters were assigned roles as old or disabled people, and forced to modify their behavior. Some were put in wheelchairs, while others were given masks to demonstrate what the blind encounter.

One group was given glasses restricting vision, making it difficult to move about. Others were wrapped in garb that limited their walking and made climbing stairs a burden. Yet another group was confined in wheelchairs, where they learned the obstacles in navigating through the airport.

Yasuyo Taira, put in a mask to simulate vision restrictions, said I can see nothing and I cant find the steps. It was very frightening. The girl said now I want to help if I meet old or disables people. Another girl, Haruka Akamine, was put in a wheelchair where she learned Ive never spoken with disabled people when I met them because I am shy. Now, Im going to think about them.

School master Kimiko Takamine says I believe the children have learned valuable lessons about being considerate to disabled or old people. At least, I am expecting them to.

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