Maggie Vasquez is a fourth-grade student at The Academy for Global Citizenship. She has cerebral palsy, which makes it difficult for her to get around. To move, she needs to use a walker because of the weakness she experiences in her legs and her back. On most days, this is too much of a struggle for her. She has been going to school since kindergarten. Maggie is a very talented singer, and she hopes one day to be like her heroes, Taylor Swift, and Selena Gomez. According to her teacher, she is a strong, smart, funny, and sweet little girl.
Helma Wardennar is a teacher at The Academy For Global Citizenship, and she is Maggie’s teacher. She moved to the United States from Holland and has been teaching at the school ever since.
The Academy For Global Citizenship
The school is located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a public charter school whose mission is to educate students using an innovative and holistic approach. Before the school opened in 2008, it was a dental tool factory, and it sits on the southwest side of the city. The school’s founders visited schools all over the world, and this is where they got the ideas for many of the concepts that they have implemented in the school. There is more to the school than education. The children learn how to eat properly, and are only served meals with organic ingredients. The students even do yoga every day.
Helma was one of the teachers who visited other schools. She researched countries in Scandinavia. There, she found some pretty fantastic schools and ideas.
Money Is Tight
The community doesn’t have much money; therefore, money can be tight. Many of the children who attend the school have special needs, ranging from learning disabilities to autism. Catering to these children costs more money than the district has, so they rely on donations to help pay for the equipment and the special care that the children need.
The Field Trip
The school was planning a
Needing a Solution
Helma didn’t want Maggie to miss out on the trip to nature with the rest of her class. She knew that she had to come up with some way that Maggie could enjoy the trip, despite her disability. Helma says that it was never the question of
Some people suggested taking alternate routes on the
Helma contacted an outdoor supplier in Coleman named Greg Coleman. Helma thought if there were a way that she could carry Maggie, she could enjoy the trip. Unfortunately, after hours of brainstorming, they couldn’t come up with something suitable for a 62-pound child. Helma put the idea to rest but Gary couldn’t let it go. A few weeks later, Gary called Helma. He was thrilled because he came up with an excellent solution.
Gary suggested that Helma carry Maggie in a Freeloader. It is a back carrier with a