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STUDENT PERSPECTIVES: WRITTEN BY ASHLEY JERNIGAN

An Eye Opening Look

The Clare-Gladwin Career & Technical Education students of Criminal Justice and Health Occupations participated in a hands-on experience of getting a glimpse into what it’s like to suffer from disabilities such as Dementia and Alzheimer’s. The teens also participated in online simulations for what it’s like to face difficulties with reading and math while fighting off attention deficits and other ailments.

Compassus Hospice professionals Sandi Erickson and Jessica Heska volunteered to share their technology with the students. They are passionate about educating others and spreading awareness about these topics.

Erickson and Heska hope that this experience benefits the students involved to not only understand how a simple task can change to nearly impossible for someone who suffers from one of these disabilities, but also how to empathize and support somebody going through these daily challenges.

The hands-on experience began with placing spiked, poking soles inside the shoe, and wearing gloves with some fingers stitched together, imitating arthritis in the hands and feet. Next, sight was reduced by limiting peripheral vision with dark, tunnel-like sunglasses. Noise cancelling headphones played sounds of chattering, sirens and other various sounds, emulating what it may be like for those suffering PTSD, while also eliminating almost all outside noises, making it nearly impossible hear.

While wearing the gear, six tasks were given to the students. Confused and muddled, the participants attempted to perform jobs like setting the table, folding towels and drawing pictures to the best of their ability; however, they failed more times than they succeeded.

“This experience was informational, but difficult to accomplish,” said Criminal Justice student Hannah. “I learned more about what disabled people have to go through, and I now have a better understanding of how to help people struggling in these situations and give them assistance if needed.”

The participants also took part in an online simulation, involving a series of timed puzzles, writing tests, math equations and more.  “The online simulations were just frustrating because everything felt so limited and restricted,” said Criminal Justice student Brock. “Now I can better understand what it’s like for people struggling with these challenges daily.”