Yesterday I had the great pleasure to return to my elementary school to share my new book with the third grade class. What may come as a surprise, though, is that I was SUPER nervous to speak in front of 100+ kids. While I felt confident that they would like the story, I was unsure I’d be able to engage such a large group of kids for 45 minutes, which seemed like an eternity beforehand. I was worried they would be distracted by my wheelchair. And, lastly, I was unsure of my ability to project my voice and annunciate words well enough for them to follow along. But, like Will, the main character in my book, I decided to face my fears and try!
Once the teacher introduced me and turned the presentation over to me, I realized my fears were completely unfounded. They were engaged the entire time. They laughed at the funny parts of the book, which assured me they were following along. In our discussion after reading the book, several students shared what they liked about the book, echoing the overall theme, which made me happy they understood the book’s purpose. Then, I opened the floor for questions, and the questions spanned many topics, from what inspired me to write the book to how often do I get a new wheelchair. Their curiousness confirmed I’m serving my purpose by creating an environment where kids are comfortable to ask questions, so they can, in turn, be more comfortable around people with differences. Lastly, as I was leaving, one of the students asked to shake my hand, solidifying my feelings that I made a positive impression.
For those who have not read my book, Will doubts his ability to catch food because he can’t fly. Above I shared my own emotions I felt prior to my presentation because, like Will, I also experience self doubt at times. I think we all do. The important thing is to just try and not give up. (It’s also important to prepare; the Uber driver who drove me to the school probably thought I was crazy reciting what I’d say aloud the entire ride.) And, while I’m confident I had a positive impact on the students, those kids had just as big an impact on me, giving me the confidence I need to do it again and again. So, who’s school can I visit next?!