Book getting published. They share experiences [of classmate with disabilities.]
By COURTNEY LOMAX
L. NAZARETH TWP. ; Nineteen fourth-grade students at Lower Nazareth Elementary School are going to be published authors as soon as September.
In a surprise celebration complete with pizza, cake and balloons Friday afternoon, the students learned their book, “Our Friend, Mikayla,” is going to be published and sold. Melissa Mastro, 9, was surprised to find out her illustration was selected to be the cover of the book.“I never did anything like write a book,” Melissa said while selecting a piece of cake.
The kids wrote the book last year in third grade about their classmate Mikayla Resh. Mikayla was born brain damaged and has severely impaired vision and hearing. Profound cerebral palsy confines her to a wheelchair, her mother, Kimberly Resh, said.
In the book, the kids write about their experiences with Mikayla and things they learned from her. Kimberly Resh wants the book to teach other students to accept people with disabilities. The Bubel/Aiken Foundation, a nonprofit organization started by “American Idol” competitor Clay Aiken, has agreed to publish, market and sell the book, Resh said. The foundation’s goal is for all developmentally disabled children to be a part of the regular classroom.
The foundation awarded a $12,500 grant to help with publishing costs and the Nazareth Area Blue Eagle Education Foundation donated an additional $2,000. All proceeds will benefit the foundation.
Mikayla, 11, is one of 18 students in the Nazareth Area School District with disabilities who is in a class with children without disabilities.
She receives help from a one-on-one associate teacher, said John Reichl, the district’s director of special education. The district started this practice, called inclusion, about 10 years ago, Reichl said.
“It helps everybody socially,” he said. Not only are students with disabilities in close contact with their peers, students without disabilities learn to accept people who are different.
And the book shows just that.