Melissa and Emily are friends I met in a literature class last
semester; we are taking another class together this semester (other
than this one) and decided to join forces to do this project.
We met at UCP Osceola on Friday mornings at 9:00 am to tell a
story and act it out with puppets. The children served were ages 2–5.
Our presentations were given the first three weeks in March.
After story time was over, we chose or were assigned a class. We
planned an activity, but since it was so close to lunch time by the
time we finished with all the classes, we helped them with lunch; they
kept the activities for later.
Up to about 13 years ago, my first reaction when I came in contact with someone with a
disability was to feel sorry for the person. A personal experience taught me that people
with a disability do not want to be pitied; it’s insulting.
A number of years ago I made a new friend, Rosa. Rosa is legally blind. I have
known many people with a mental or physical handicap over the years,
but I had never been personally acquainted with someone who was blind.
At first I found myself talking 'down' to her or using very simple speech like
I would a child or speaking in a louder voice. As I got to know her better, I
found out Rosa was in the military as a mental health nurse- she's not
mentally challenged by any means, just doesn't see as well as me. In many
ways I found she saw far better than me. It's amazing how a person's
perception changes when you see the person not the disability.
Introduction to the Setting
448 W. Donegan Avenue
Kissimmee, FL 34741
“This 9,200 square foot facility has seven
classrooms, a therapy gym and a
developmental playground. There is also
one specialized autism classroom. UCP of
Central Florida’s Osceola Campus is our
second largest center and serves a
growing need in Osceola County.”
The pictures show one of the therapy
rooms where our puppet show took place.
The top picture is ours, the bottom is from
UCP’s website. (Listed above)
I became familiar with UCP Osceola through my grandson.
He was diagnosed with CP when he was 2 and his doctor
recommended the UCP schools- “There is one in Kissimmee.”
Since this class has a connection with the UCP Bailes center,
I knew that the UCP school would work and I wanted to do my
project where my grandson used to go. I was familiar with the
people there, it was a pleasure to go back.
Me & ucp
Students Per Teacher 14
Economically Disadvantaged 41.1%
Breakdown by Ethnicity
Asian/Pacific Islander 3.6%
The school serves children with any
disability, including-Down Syndrome,
Visual or Hearing impairment, Speech
delayed, Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Mental
Developmental and children with no
The school also offers Speech,
Physical and Occupational Therapy
available by appointment to people
ages birth – 21 years who are not
enrolled in the school.
The school is for babies up to Pre-K
only; they do not have the facilities to
house any other grades.
A Personal Reflection:
Thirteen years ago, my younger brother was diagnosed with a particularly
aggressive brain tumor. One day, my mom’s car broke down in the
oncologist’s parking lot; she called and asked me to come help her. I
remember- as I drove into the parking lot, seeing an old man come out of a
doctor’s office and hobble across the lot and I felt sorry for him. Imagine
my shock to realize that ‘old man’ was my younger brother! I know that
cancer isn’t classified as a disability, but as his cancer progressed, it
affected his vision and mobility (he lost the use of his left arm and leg).
Through that experience and others that our family went through together, I
learned the personal nature of a disability- most important is the fact we
learned in our “Understanding Disabilities” module- “the disability does not
define the person”! My brother- his humor, character, mind etc. was in that
body and he appreciated being treated as a person of great worth- which
he was! All people are- disabled or not!
My oldest grandson was diagnosed with CP two years ago. CP does not
determine who he is, and it’s irritating to hear people say, “Poor little boy!” I
know how they feel though, and that it is said with good intentions- I used to
think or say the same thing.
The Three Little
Story of the
(The wolf’s side
of the story)
Little Red Riding
Us and The Little Darlings
We gave three
performances the first
day. The two two-year-
old classes were first;
then the two three-year-
old classes; last- the two
For the last two weeks, the four-
year-old classes came in
separately- so we gave four
performances on those weeks..
On average, I think we
served close to sixty
children. We had
but didn’t use all of them
We were not allowed to know what
disabilities the students had. The children
with Down Syndrome were easy to
determine. (as a side note- these were the
happiest children! )
We observed their individual behavior patterns the first week, so we
were better prepared the second week to know how to communicate
with different children. After we told the first story, we asked the
children if they wanted to come play with the puppets and tell the
story. In one of the classes, there was a particularly eager little girl. It
seemed to us that when she came forward, some of the other children
moved back. We learned to ask the children individually if they
wanted to play with the puppets instead of asking the class as a
whole. This action gave the other children the encouragement they
needed to move past the little girl and take a turn. When she tried to
assert herself, we told her it was someone else’s turn at that moment.
The children remembered us when we came the second week. They
waved excitedly to us and told us about the story we presented the
week before. Some of them ran over to us to give us a hug. When it
was time for them to leave, some of them came over to us and
hugged us again.
I can’t ‘lump’ the children with specific disabilities together. For
example, the children with down syndrome- “They are happy
children and were eager to participate. “ While this is true, each of
these children is an individual. They have their own personality and
I wasn’t sure at first if our being there was a good thing. I felt like
we disrupted their day; the children were very active! The teachers
said that the children looked forward to our show; it was a break in
their schedule. One of the teachers has a daughter in the school;
she said her daughter repeated the stories every night at bath time.
I felt better about being there when I heard this.
Overall, the classes we enjoyed performing for best were the
younger classes. They were more likely to participate with the
puppets and other props we brought; their activity level was not as
high. There was a noticeable difference but I’m not sure why.
One of the four-year-old classes did NOT like Little Red Riding Hood. I
don’t know if it was the cape, the story or what it was, they were freaked
out!! So when story time was over- they hid in the cape I was wearing-
snotty noses and all!! They wanted nothing to do with the child’s cape, so
the teacher put it on. They thought this was funny.
The second week there, we presented the wolf’s version of 3 little pigs.
The children recognized the puppets and scenery; they told us they
wanted a new story- they already knew this story. When they learned it
was a different story- they were okay with hearing it. After Little Red… on
the third week, they told us they liked “the pig story better- Tell it again!”
I enjoyed the experience! Some of the children were reserved around
us, some were not. By the end of the third week, we were old friends. In
one of the classes there was a little boy who kept grabbing my hands and
lifting his legs. (He had incredible upper body strength!) I didn’t know
what he wanted- the teacher said he wanted to be held; I asked if I was
allowed. When they said yes, I picked him up. He buried his head in my
shoulder and hung on tight. The teacher said, “You’re in heaven aren’t
you, Mark?” He just looked at me and smiled.