The day had finally arrived. A day that I had been preparing for, for several months. A day that 12 amazing, smart, capable, unique, (and at times, challenging) 8th students had also been anxiously waiting for. It was like Christmas in February. The students piled in with their backpacks, greeting me, some with smiles, some with “hellos,” and some with “Ugh! Monday!”
It took them about 30 seconds to notice, and with pure joy they let out screams of “Ms. Bleile! Ms. B! You got your new wheelchair!” They began going out into the hallway and yelling to random individuals in the hall to look at my new chair. They even went and got the principal. They would not go to class until I showed them all the things that it could do, and I was not very good at working it yet. However, they worked the chair masterfully. They said, “Ms. B, it’s just like a video game!”
I elevated the seat at iLevel®. Then we had to see if they were still taller than me, and it was very exciting. They were worried because now I could see more of what they were doing on their Chromebooks, which is great for a teacher that is trying to keep them on task and off the video games they love so much. Then, I showed them how it had blinking lights. They thought it was so cool, and I explained how the lights were for safety. I also used it as an incentive, so that when they got their work done, they could turn off the lights in the classroom and turn on the flashing lights on my wheelchair.
Now that I have iLevel, I can write on both the white board and the smart board. This is something that I have never independently been able to do before. I could now use other tables in the classroom and allow the students to work with me in new areas of the classroom. It gave them other choices of where to work with me.
The most amazing thing about this experience is the fact that they shared so much joy with me after receiving this wheelchair. They felt as much joy as I did. My students and I connect on such a deep level because we understand that we all have struggles in life. But life is a blessing, and you can be successful in life, regardless of circumstances. My wheelchair does not define who I am, just like their disabilities don’t define them or who they are. My wheelchair gives me freedom and independence to live my life to the fullest. Being at iLevel with my wheelchair is truly a life-changing experience for me and my students.
About Amy Bleile: Amy is a former Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin and special education teacher. She resides in Whitewater, WI, and participates in wheelchair basketball. Amy also enjoys attending concerts and experiencing everything that the world has to offer. Click here to learn more about Amy.