Carli Moghannam, a fourth grader at , spent Monday, May 21st in a wheelchair. Why did Carli do this, when she was not hurt or in true need of this assistive device?
A few months ago, this 9-year-old saw a segment on Good Morning America featuring Janne Kouri, who was paralyzed in 2006. On this segment, Janne, who was paralyzed, was actually able to dance with his wife. This amazed and inspired Carli.
This is when she heard about Janne Kouri’s “Wheelchair For a Day Challenge.”
“I took the Challenge because it is hard for everyone to understand what a kid in a wheel chair goes through each day in school.” Carli said. “If a kid can take the Challenge, so can you!”
In preparation for Carli’s big day, during a recent phone conversation with Janne, Carli asked “What should I do when I cannot do something because I am in the chair?” Janne answered, “Ask a friend for help.”
Carli began her day at 6:45 a.m., when she entered her borrowed wheelchair as soon as she woke up. One of her biggest challenges while at school was being able to get a drink of water from the water fountain.
In her wheelchair, Carli realized she could not reach the spout to get a drink. Carli’s mom, Gayla, stepped in and brought a water bottle to Carli, but this is something that before Carli would have simply taken for granted — the ability to drink from the water fountain when she was thirsty.
While in the wheelchair at school, Carli’s friends really stepped up to help her. Whether Carli needed help picking up a dropped pencil or reaching a book that was on a high shelf, other fourth graders were happy to assist Carli. She noted, “Even someone who I don't talk to that much said they thought what I was doing was really neat.”
All of Carli’s classmates were able to speak with Janne, the inspiration behind this wheelchair challenge, via Facetime—a moment nobody in Carli’s class will soon forget. They were able to see what it is like to go through rehabilitation. Carli confides, “Janne is so amazing because he never gave up and kept trying to get better. I am going to remember that even if someone says I cannot do something that if I try really hard, I can do it, just like Janne.”
At about 6 p.m., Carli exited her wheelchair. Her legs were numb from lack of movement all day and her body was sore from sitting. Imagine how someone who cannot get up after a day of being in a wheelchair must feel, day in and day out. Someone who is truly disabled can't simply decide to get out of his or her wheelchair to stretch weary legs.
What will Carli and her classmates take from this experience?
“I learned so much today. I learned that it is hard for someone to be in a wheel chair. We should not stare at them or treat them different. They are the same person inside. They are just in a chair. We should respect them and help them when we can,” Carli shares.
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