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Upon Their Hands They Will Carry you
Page 33

Honda is Her Nickname

The bands that held the Gulliver like giant down were the bonds of ignorance and as they broke away from that imaginary person the parents of those little ones began to demand attention for their children. Wars were waged with the powers by the parents. They and their children scurried about with only a common goal in mind. This was simply to go to school every day from home like everyone else. No charging knight went before them, no glorious message of declaration was preached. Only dogged determination made them want to get to their class, if but for one more day. What a noble thing to see acted out by one after another disabled childís parent. It was incredible. Of course, the men who were able to observe and see those parents willing to work with their own children were learning of the lengths to which they would go. No longer were parents going to be pushed into offering their children up to some state home where they were torn away from their own family and extended family.

The numbers were beginning to be released. To house a child in an institution around 1960 came to a cost of 4000 dollars a month. That is 48,000 dollars a year. For ten years the numbers jump, 480,000 or almost a half million dollars the government ultimately had to pay if the parents relinquished their duty. All at once to have parents taking that expense on their own shoulders just as they did for their well children began to look more interesting as far as politicians were concerned not to mention the tax payers. Again money talks. The prejudice toward people who were less than perfect had to be addressed, after all wars on another continent were behind us.

Enlightenment always seems to come at one time and this was what was happening before the 1970's. For some reason the people up above were looking at the many parents who were single and alone in their efforts in trying to work through the problems of keeping a disabled child at home and were somehow separated one from another but strangely united, too. Their efforts were not organized. No throngs of marching insurrection existed. Only a personal individual determined decision for a conscientious activity happened. The pioneers of this way of thinking brought attention to themselves and their quest; nevertheless, they were relentless in their work for a better way of looking at the disabled.

After Rhonda proved she could function in the classroom she was then accepted into public school at Lincoln school in Ponca City. A special ramp was built on the back side of the school so we could easily access a classroom.

Mrs. Jones was her teacher for this year. An aide was hired. This lady helped our daughter to the bathroom and was in the classroom should any of the other students need her.

"Honda is her nickname." One of the mischievous boys grinned slyly as he met me at the door and then took over to push Rhonda to her desk and in place.

"Honda?" I asked. "Why Honda?"

"Cause she has wheels." Only as a little boy can enjoy a joke all by himself and this is what he was doing. He was chuckling all over his body with both fists up to his cheeks and his shoulders hunched up.

Rhonda enjoyed being accepted enough to have her own nickname and she was grinning from ear to ear.

Mrs. Jones, the young, light-hearted woman, was well educated in that relatively newer field of Special Education.

After class we spent time visiting about what could and should be done for all children. I took notes, composed them into letters and one by one sent them en mass to every Senator or state politician who might be interested. Governor David Hall, Governor Nigh and his wife Donna, were the ones to become involved with implementing many of Mrs. Jones original ideas. It wasnít long after that, Special Education over the whole nation was being put in place, admittedly awkward and not ever as it should be but at least a start.

To be sure it was the well kids who would benefit the most. Something about having a handicapped child in their presence gave them insight and understanding of that personís struggle and made them wish to be appreciative of their own situations. These kids helped Rhonda in small ways and that gave them a feeling of self-worth . Too many children had never seen someone of their own age in a wheelchair. For a while they stood back in silent observation but only for a short time. Soon the shyness left them and Rhonda was taken into their groups as an equal.

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