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Students say HOWDEE to disabilities
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Betsy Virrueta, who is a third-grade student at Brock Elliott School, tries out the wheelchair obstacle course Thursday as part of the physical challenges of Project HOWDEE (Helping Others With Disabilities Everyway Everyday). - photo by VINCE REMBULAT
For the past two days, students at Brock Elliott School sampled life physically impaired.

Project Helping Others With Disabilities Everyway Everyday – or HOWDEE – was held Wednesday and Thursday and led by special education teacher James Marlowe along with a select group of 14 eighth-grade students.

“They’re high-achievement kids,” he said. “They were given the OK from their teachers for (the HOWDEE program) training.”

First-, second-, and third- grade students became better aware of what people with disabilities go through on a daily basis.

They did so by going through several challenges, including:

•Physical – Students, for example, had a chance to take the helm of a wheelchair and maneuver through an obstacle course.

•Dress for success – Youngsters tried buttoning up a shirt or unpeeling a sticker with taped up hands.

•Visual – They made their way through a blind walk, read Braille, and draw inside of a maze while at the same time looking through a mirror.

•Hearing – Students took a spelling test with the words nearly inaudible. They also learned about sign language and lip reading.

At the same time, youngsters found the various challenges to be fun.

“I liked the wheelchair,” said third-grade student Betsy Virrueta.

She wasn’t alone. Mikayla DeAvila also enjoyed going through the wheelchair obstacle course.

Martin Espinosa, who is also a third-grade student, had little trouble buttoning a shirt with both hands taped together.

“I could still play video games,” he said.

Marlowe, meanwhile, praised his eighth-grade HOWDEE leaders for their efforts.

“They really stepped up to the plate,” he said.

Included was Megan Gonsalves, who also echoed the objective of the program.

“It gave us a better understanding how people with disabilities feel,” she said.

In the end, those involved came away with a better understanding of a HOWDEE slogan: “More Similar than Different.”