On December 3 we are taking a day to remind the world that people with disabilities matter. The #SeeDignity campaign is a day to learn about people with disabilities, to find ways to help them, and to show the world that every human being’s life matters. Visit lifedefender.org/seedignity for ideas on how to participate.
Stories can be powerful teaching tools to help your children and students understand that every person’s life has meaning and value. This month, use these stories about people overcoming disabilities to spark discussions with your children to help them understand the beauty of every human being’s life.
For young children
You Are Special by Max Lucado
Children love to be reminded that they are special—and why shouldn’t they? The conversation you have with your children about the sacredness and dignity of every human being’s life starts with reminding them that every person is unique and created in the image and likeness of God.
In You Are Special by Max Lucado, Punchinello feels inadequate next to the other Wemmicks. He can’t do all the the wonderful things they can. As a result, the Wemmicks give him dots instead of gold stars. But when Punchinello meets Eli, the woodcarver who created the Wemmicks, he realizes how much Eli cares about him, no matter how many dots he has. A Wemmick’s—or a person’s—value does not depend on what other people think about him. You Are Special is a wonderful reminder of how valuable each person is simply because of God’s love.
The Prince Who Was Just Himself by Silke Schnee
Every child is a blessing and a special gift—including children with disabilities. A recently translated book from Germany entitled The Prince Who Was Just Himself touches on several pro-life themes—from the blessing of children to the value of every human being. In the story, the king and queen long for a third child. When Prince Noah is born with Down syndrome, his family immediately loves him and welcomes him into the family. But not everyone sees Prince Noah’s value and some of the subjects say mean things about him. When the terrible knight Scarface rides into the kingdom, Prince Noah is the only one who can save the day. The Prince Who Was Just Himself reminds us how each person has a special mission from God in this world, no matter what his abilities.
For older children
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Ten-year-old August (Auggie) Pullman was homeschooled until 4th grade because of his severe health problems. Auggie is terrified to go to a regular school because of what the other kids might think of him, but he ends up with a few friends, despite his reservations. When Auggie’s friends talk behind his back and shun him, it is up to Auggie’s sister Olivia to convince him to stay in school until the end of the year. Told from the perspectives of the many different characters rather than a single narrator, Wonder is a heartwarming tale of overcoming bullies, standing up for others, and being a friend.
The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
Sam Beaver is an adventurous boy who loves going to Canada with his father to fish, explore, and observe nature. One day Sam sees a pair of trumpeter swans making a nest on a small island in the middle of a pond. Sam goes back every day to watch the eggs and see how carefully the swans care for their family. When the six cygnets finally hatch, one of them, named Louis, has a problem. He can’t say anything. Louis is often lonely because he can’t talk to his family. The Trumpet of the Swan is a classic tale of overcoming disabilities and succeeding against overwhelming odds.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
When her parents die in a cholera epidemic in India, sour, sickly, and self-centered Mary Lennox has no choice but to go live with her uncle, Mr. Archibald Craven, at his mysterious Misselthwaite Manor in Yorkshire, England. With her uncle constantly away and no playmates to keep her company, Mary spends her time exploring the grounds around the manor. When one of the servants mentions a “secret garden” that was shut up by Mr. Craven because his wife died there, Mary decides to find the garden and uncover the secrets of the manor. The Secret Garden is a charming story about miracles and the importance of reaching out to others.
The Miracle Worker (2001)
As blind and deaf Helen Keller grows older, she becomes increasingly difficult for her family to handle. When Annie Sullivan steps in as Helen’s teacher, she insists that the Keller family hold Helen to a higher standard of behavior. Annie succeeds in breaking through Helen’s communication barriers and shows the Kellers how intelligent and capable their daughter really is, despite her disabilities. The Miracle Worker is a powerful movie about persistence in helping others.
Where Hope Grows (2015)
When alcoholism gets in the way of his career and his relationships with others, Calvin nearly gives up. His life changes when he meets optimistic and cheerful Produce who has Down syndrome. Even though Produce has a disability, he doesn’t allow it to define him. Produce teaches Calvin about the meaning of friendship, family, and sacrifice. Where Hope Grows is a powerful story of friendship and the beauty of every person’s life.
Temple Grandin (2010)
Because of her autism, Temple is different from other people, but that doesn’t make her any less of a person. This moving film follows Temple from the summer days spent at her uncle’s ranch to the development of her system which revolutionized the cattle industry. The film examines how people with autism struggle to connect with others and build close relationships, and illuminates the many personal challenges that Temple must overcome. Despite these challenges, Temple shows determination and perseverance both in her personal and professional lives. Temple Grandin inspires all of us to look past other people’s personal struggles and treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve.
The King’s Speech (2010)
(Note, this film should be viewed by older teens.)
Prince Albert (nicknamed Bertie), Duke of York and son of King George V of England, is plagued with a stammer. Over the years, Bertie sees many different doctors with many different techniques for helping him overcome his speech defect, but to no avail. Despite her husband’s resistance, the duke’s wife visits Lionel Logue, a speech therapist who convinces her to try one last time to help Bertie. The King’s Speech is an inspiring film about friendship, determination, and overcoming disabilities.
Would you like to participate in the #SeeDignity campaign on social media? Tag a picture of your children and you performing an act of kindness for people with disabilities with the hashtag #SeeDignity and post on Facebook. It’s that simple!
Need more ideas for acts of kindness? Visit lifedefender.org/seedignity.