By Michelle Vink on
“I will sing for everybody in the world….Once I see some people. I will walk on stage on my legs!” His brand new robot legs to be exact.
These are the words of the brave young Spencer that I interviewed briefly before he prepared for his musical performance. Tonight he would be singing with some of his other friends from Shane’s Club Children’s Choir. I asked him for a preview of the song from the musical, Wicked, that they were to perform later that night but was denied so I would pay special attention for his important stage entrance.
“When I was first born I had bending legs. I was walking on them until I felt so much pain. I didn’t want to want to get the pain anymore. So… I cut my legs off. I went to Shriners Hospitals for Children and got surgery. I got two shots and I didn’t scream or nothing… they cut off both of my legs and I got the new robot legs."
It is amazing children just like Spencer that were the focus of the 2009 Gala for Shane's Inspiration at The Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills. Guests like Derek Strong, former NBA player and now racecar driver, came out to support this great event and help raise funds for playgrounds and programs that will impact the lives of all children. The Gala Committee includes such stars as Dakota Fanning, Elle Fanning, Emma Roberts, Steve Valentine, Laura Sangiacomo and Julia Roberts. Joe Mantegna's own daughter has autism and he felt it was an honor for him to be the Master of Ceremony of this annual event tonight.
The mission of Shane’s Inspiration is to “create Universally Accessible Playground and programs that integrate children of all abilities socially, physically and emotionally fostering acceptance, friendship and understanding.” Not only do they make an impact with these new playgrounds, but they also offer free programs including field trips, play clubs and educational programs that reach over 5,000 children a year throughout Southern California.
Imagine taking someone like Spencer to the playground to meet up with his friends and not being able to interact with the other children because they are limited to only a few pieces of equipment on the playground. This creates an immediate obstacle in the benefits of play, keeping the children with disabilities segregated from their peer groups and social circles. By creating these Universally Accessible Playgrounds, it also allows the “typically-able” children the necessary opportunity to interact with children with disabilities. They learn to accept and interact with children that may be different than them and “eliminate bias against children with disabilities.”
So the next time a child like Spencer wants to walk on stage to “sing for everybody in the world”, the world will see his abilities, not his disabilities. If it takes a village to move a mountain, how hard could it be to build a few playgrounds?
Copyright © 2009 Look to the Stars