TROY – For a group of Troy University students, a field trip to the Alabama Institute for the Blind and Deaf has been "eye-opening."
The students in Dr. Candice Howard-Shaughnessy's KHP 4462 Physical Education for Exceptional Children visited the AIDB campus and the Helen Keller School to assist with the Talladega/AIDB Special Olympics, tour the facilities and observe interactive technologies.
"The trip to AIDB was an eye-opening experience that will be with me for a lifetime," said Marvin Morton, a senior physical education major from Maplesville. "I met awesome individuals who were enjoying life and having fun, despite their disabilities."
That's the point Howard-Shaughnessy said she hoped the trip made with her students.
"I've been taking students to AIDB so they may experience what I consider one of Alabama's 'best kept secrets'," she said.
On Thursday, Sept. 29, 36 students from both Troy and Dothan campuses made the trip, which included a volleyball game with AIDB students and staff, lunch and "play time" in the Helen Keller School's Sensory and Motor Laboratory. In addition, the students had the chance to observe classes in progress to see the interactive technology that students with multiple disabilities are currently utilizing. Howard-Shaughnessy said she began taking classes to AIDB eight years ago.
"Visiting AIDB was a great experience and a day I will never forget," said Torie Hodge, a senior collaborative education major from Zion Chapel. "Never have I been to a school where all the teachers and students were so happy and enjoyed their days as much as they do there. After speaking to many teachers who work on the different AIDB campuses, I am very interested in returning for another visit and looking into the Deaf Education programs."
Hodge wasn't alone in her sentiments. Melanie Mularz, a senior health and physical education major from Elba, said that seeing AIDB students smile was uplifting.
"Words cannot describe how overwhelmed I was by the spirits of the students and the joy they bring just being in their presence. The students taught me many things and opened my eyes to a whole new world," she said. "I'm considering becoming an adaptive physical education teacher now."
"I learned that no matter the disability, there is always a way to reach every student – you just have to learn what works for them and that no child is the same," Mularz said.