Easter Seals: ‘Different Is Not Bad’

Children at Hills & Dales Preschool in Wheeling received a lesson about disabilities from Jess Puglisi-Sanders of Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center Wednesday.

The message: “Different isn’t bad.”

Puglisi-Sanders, community relations director for the Wheeling agency, brought several “friends” with her to visit Hills & Dales for the annual program. The dolls included Lucy, who uses forearm crutches and leg braces; Jacob, who wears a helmet; Leah, who is blind; and Patrick who uses a walker.

“Would you push Patrick out of the way to get where you are going?” Puglisi-Sanders asked.

“No!” the children responded.

“No, we just need to be patient and let people like Patrick take as long as they need to,” Puglisi-Sanders said.

When talking about Jacob, she said: “It’s not scary that he’s wearing a helmet or something silly that he’s doing. … He wears his helmet inside for the same reasons you wear your helmet outside … to protect his head.”

Preschool teacher Priscilla Gompers said Easter Seals presents the program each year to the children, and the children subsequently conduct a fundraiser for the agency. This year they will do a hop-a-thon today. The partnership has been ongoing for 25 years, she said.

“We do it to help Easter Seals and to have the children be aware of certain types of disabilities and to be able to participate in community service for their peers who are served by Easter Seals,” Gompers said.