WALDO program held at Hoosick Falls high school

Photo Credit: Samantha DiMascio, NEWS10 ABC

HOOSICK FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Local students had a chance to experience what it’s like to take a walk in someone else’s shoes or to take a ride in someone’s wheelchair on Wednesday.

The program allows them to better understand the types of disabilities and disorders that their classmates may deal with on a daily basis.

“It’s quite the workout on your arms, whoever uses it has got some pretty strong arms, like, I couldn’t do it,” Guy Milliman, a senior at Hoosick Falls Central School, said. “It really puts things into perspective.”

That’s exactly what the WALDO program is all about.  It stands for We All Learn Differently Olympics.

Lisa Ferrannini is behind today’s first-ever event at Hoosick Falls Central School. She’s a physical education teacher but she’s also certified through Rutger’s University in social emotional character development.

“I was surprised at some of the things these poor kids have to go through and I think the students will get a better understanding and get an empathy and maybe reach out.”

On Wednesday, dozens of informational booths filled the gymnasium each labeled with a disability or a disorder.

Tabling them were their own students, giving them the opportunity to explain their situation and answer any questions their classmates may have.

“So this right here is a continuous glucose monitor that checks my blood glucose every five minutes,” Kaylee Denue, a sophomore at Hoosick Falls Central School, said.

Denue was diagnosed with type one diabetes at seven years old and Junior Brianna Elewell suffers from epilepsy.

“I had a seizure in Boston on an overnight field trip and all my friends saw it and it was very scary,” Elewell said.

While some booths are informational, others are very hands on.

“With the clef palate booth they’ll be trying to sip through some straws and have a little difficulty because there will several holes in those and that’s what the poor kids go through that have clef pallets,” Ferrannini said.

Mariah Joy has had ten different reconstruction surgeries with one more to go.

“I would always get, ‘What happened to your lip?’, ‘What’s wrong with your mouth?’, and I never really knew what to say until I got older,” Joy said.

Ferraninni got teachers and alumni involved too like seventh grade English teacher Kim Brownell who is blind in one eye.

“We have some goggles here, some lab goggles with Vaseline on them,” Brownell said.

2009 graduate Connor McEvoy was today’s keynote speaker.

“I have a speech about how I grew up in Hoosick Falls I graduated from here and about the uses of the R-word and how that needs to stop being said. It’s an awful word and I hope people get that message.”

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