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Uncovering the facts about invisible disabilities

Teacher’s own children the impetus for school project
Crofton Elementary School students learned about a wide variety of invisible disabilities through a school project and shared the findings with the public. (Photo by Don Bodger)

A school project has helped Crofton Elementary School students to uncover facts and overcome the fear of the unknown for themselves and others.

Division 1 and 2 students learned about various invisible disabilities and body systems as a part of a large science unit. Under the umbrella term of invisible disabilities, the whole spectrum of hidden disabilities or challenges primarily neurological in nature were covered.

Student projects that summarized their learning were on display at the school gymnasium last Wednesday, March 9 during a showcase for the school community, families and friends. The students were also there to speak about their topics. Some from teacher Cassie Ward or Jody Fairweather’s classes worked in pairs and others individually on their projects.

It’s an assignment near and dear to Ward’s heart.

“I have two kids with neurodiversity who attend the school,” she said. “It was part of it.

“Last year was our first year. We plan on doing it every year. They’re very eager to learn about invisible disabilities and taking that knowledge forward and sharing it with others.”

Related story: Students clear up the misconceptions about invisible disabilities

“I think it’s an amazing thing,” added Fairweather. “The kids learn how these body systems are interconnected, bringing more awareness to the invisible disability rather than the physical ones.”

Div. 1 students Thea Vanham and Samara Darwin teamed up for a project on Fragile X Syndrome.

“We didn’t know anything about it,” said Vanham.

Darwin said they worked on the project for nearly two weeks.

“We found one page and we got information about that,” she added.

Through their research, they found out many things about the condition, including that it’s a genetic disorder.

“Males are most affected,” noted Vanham. “Females can also get it, but it’s not as severe.”

Div. 2 students Savannah Bruneau and Emma Cooper did their assignment on anxiety.

“We both have anxiety disorder,” said Bruneau. “We wanted to do something we both are familiar with. That’s why we are partners.”

“We only had a month. A month is really not that long, especially for all this to be done.We just finished it literally last minute.”

The girls made up a series of cue cards to address and answer questions about anxiety.

For example, one question was about how anxiety and body systems are interrelated.

“Anxiety disorder can cause rapid heart rate, palpitations and chest pain,” said Cooper. “You may also be at an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.”

In response to another question about what disadvantages a person has with anxiety disorder, “heart palpitations and a rapid breathing pattern are commonly experienced during a bout of anxiety,” Cooper added.

Grade 5 students Natalie Potter and Jocelyn Price worked together on a project about intellectual disorder.

“It’s a brain disorder,” said Potter. “Usually, it can be managed.”

“Intellectual disorder is actually quite similar to autism and it can sometimes be mixed up,” pointed out Price.

There were many more interesting projects and the students enjoyed the opportunity to speak to people about what they learned.


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Savannah Bruneau, left, and Emma Cooper did their project on anxiety. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Samara Darwin, left, and Thea Vanham did a project together on Fragile X Syndrome. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Intellectual disability was the topic for a project by Natalie Potter, left, and Jocelyn Price. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Natalie Potter, left, and Jocelyn Price were partners on their intellectual disability project. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Don Bodger

About the Author: Don Bodger

I've been a part of the newspaper industry since 1980 when I began on a part-time basis covering sports for the Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle.
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