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Overcoming Challenges: Seventh Grade Disability Project
Posted 01/27/2014 09:47PM

Overcoming challenges is something that everyone faces, but for some these challenges are presented in the form of a physical or mental disability. Each year, Barnesville’s seventh graders learn about the people who find ways to face their challenges head-on and achieve great success despite their disability.

The Disability Project is a signature event in seventh grade Language Arts. Each student researches a famous or notable individual who currently lives or lived with a disability. They each write a biographical essay on their figure and design a brochure to summarize their findings.

The culminating event of the Disability Project is the students’ oral presentations, which takes place in the gym. Students pose as their individual and display props that represent their figure’s life and accomplishments. Students, parents, and faculty and staff then visit each person to learn more about the challenges faced and how they didn’t let their disability define who they are.

This year the seventh graders studied:

Helen Keller: lost her sight and hearing to a childhood illness; became an author, political activist and lecturer
Jessica Long: lost a leg due to fibular hemimelia and became a gold-medal Paralympics swimmer
Temple Grandin: an autistic doctor of animal science and professor
Tom Cruise: famous Hollywood actor who overcame dyslexia
John Callahan: a quadriplegic who is a nationally syndicated political cartoonist
John Hockenberry: a paraplegic award winning journalist and author
Jose Feliciano: guitarist, singer and composer with congenital glaucoma
Bethany Hamilton: professional surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack 
Eric Legrand: a retired American football player who became a quadriplegic after a tackle during a college game
Itzhak Perlman: violinist who lost the use of his legs as a child from polio 
Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low: founder of the Girl Scouts of American who was deaf
Stephen Hawking: physicist and cosmologist who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease)
Dorothea Lange: documentary photographer and photojournalist who battled polio
Aron Ralston: a American outdoorsman, engineer and motivational speaker who lost his arm during a canyoneering accident
Heather Whitestone: first deaf Miss America
Aimee Copeland: a young woman who lost her limbs to a flesh-eating bacteria
Demi Lovato: actress and musician who suffers from bipolar disorder
Michael J. Fox: actor battling Parkinson's disease
Albert Einstein: physicist who overcame dyslexia
Magic Johnson: professional basketball player who overcame dyslexia
Jim Abbott: major league baseball player who was born without a right hand
Whoopi Goldberg: actress and comedienne who overcame dyslexia
Vincent van Gogh: post-impressionist painter who suffered from mental illness

An independent private school in
Montgomery County, Maryland
offering innovative preschool
through 8th grade programs.

Barnesville School

21830 Peach Tree Road
PO Box 404
Barnesville, MD 20838

p: 301.972.0341
f: 301.972.4076


We offer a vigorous academic program for students as well as engaging, hands-on learning experiences.


Our positive, supportive learning environment promotes imagination, exploration, personal growth, and achievement.

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