For more than 25 years, Shriners Hospitals for Children — Springfield has run an exceptional program to help foster acceptance for kids with differences. My Pals is led by a hospital team that brings lessons in respect and courtesy to area classrooms. The presentations, designed for children in kindergarten through second grade, use dolls to portray different conditions treated at the hospital. My Pals gives students the opportunity to learn about the abilities of kids who use wheelchairs, braces or orthotic and prosthetic devices.
Ian, a young Shriners Hospitals for Children patient, happened to be in a class during a recent My Pals event. Afterward, his mother, Jen, sent a note to the hospital:
“Your visit made such a powerful impact on Ian and his peers. On the day you visited, it was Ian’s one-year anniversary of his first day in an American school. Prior to that, he had been living in an orphanage in China, where he was regularly ostracized for his limb difference, but on this day it was embraced and celebrated. We are so grateful for you sharing how all children have abilities and that physical differences are opportunities to explore new ways to do things. Thank you for this important work!”