Not everyone would go out of their way to help someone in need, but special-ed teacher Helma Wardenaar has kindness instilled in her bones. When one of her students was unable to take part in a class camping trip, she didn’t think it was fair that she should miss out because of her condition. So she set about concocting a plan.
Helma is the director of student services at Academy for Global Citizenship in Chicago, and every year the school arranges a camping trip. Over two days, the students explore the woods and hike, taking in the wildlife. It is a trip that her students look forward to all year round.
But for little Maggie, it didn’t seem possible for her to join in on the excursion. Maggie has cerebral palsy which means she relies on a walker and a wheelchair. So a couple of days out in the wilderness, on uneven terrain, just wasn’t possible for Maggie. She would have struggled to keep up with the rest of the class.
Ms Wardenaar was determined to take Maggie on the camping trip
Ms Wardenaar has taught Maggie since kindergarten and she felt it was important not to exclude her from the group. Determined to find a way, she approached Greg Coleman, who works in her local REI store. They tried to find a travel carrier or sling that could hold Maggie’s weight, but nothing in the store was big or sturdy enough.
Helma Wardenaar was determined to find a way. She asked a friend if she could borrow their pony but it was against the rules of the forest preserve. She even tried out a wheelbarrow but it wasn’t a safe enough to carry Maggie. That’s when, days before the hike, she got an email back from Greg at the REI store. He had something for her.
I couldn’t let go of that idea. I really want to help you out.
Greg and Ms Wardenaar managed to find the perfect way to bring Maggie along on the school trip. Needless to say, Maggie and her family were absolutely delighted that her teacher had gone the extra mile to include her in the school trip.
Watch the video below to hear Helma Wardenaar’s inspiring story and how it impacted young Maggie’s life. Just because she was born with a condition out of her control, she shouldn’t have to miss out on life experiences. Thankfully, she has a loving teacher who won’t let that happen.
If this story touched you, you can donate to Ms. Helma’s Special Education department on the GoFundMe page. The money raised will support other students like Maggie so that they can have the same access to experiences within the school.