Students and Faculty Spend Day in a Wheelchair to Promote Inclusivity

Students and Faculty Spend Day in a Wheelchair to Promote Inclusivity

Fourteen students and faculty at Stone Oak Elementary School will spend a day in a wheelchair the last week of November – taking the “Strother Challenge.” The event was named by Strother Norman, an 11-year-old who lost his mobility at age 5 after a car accident. He created and implemented the “Strother Challenge” program at his elementary school in Fort Worth to give others a glimpse into the life of a person with a disability.  


Nov. 27, Strother visited Stone Oak Elementary School to give participants a lesson on how to move around, turn and open doors, then demonstrated how to transfer, so they will be prepared for their day spent entirely in the chair.  Strother traveled with his grandparents, Dr. James and Martha Norman, who support his dream to help people understand the obstacles faced by those in a wheelchair.  Common ones at school, Strother said, are backpacks and chairs left in the way.  


The Normans are close friends of Helen Eversberg, chairman of the board of the Warm Springs Foundation, who has made it her mission to advocate for Strother and communicate his message of awareness.  Her associate Dawn Dixon, executive director of Connect + Ability, borrowed 18 wheelchairs from Morgan’s Wonderland and approached Stone Oak Elementary School to be Strother’s first out-of-town challenge location. 


“We hope to educate our students on accepting everyone’s differences and choosing to be kind.  This is a great way to broaden their horizons,” said Ida Nunez, Stone Oak Elementary School assistant principal. 


Fourth grader Mauricio Gonzalez was very excited when he was selected,” said his mother, Nancy Martinez.  Interested 4th graders completed a selection application and agreed to journal their experiences.  All Stone Oak Elementary School 4th and 5th graders will culminate the week with an assembly discussing the results of the “Strother Challenge” and encouraging compassion and inclusion.


“The ‘Strother Challenge’ lets children see what it would be like in these circumstances.  I hope it is just the beginning– so everyone can understand and be on the same playing field,” said Eversberg.