Introducing Youths to 'Special Kids'

"Another Way to Be: Special Kids, Special Needs" is the new special exhibit at the Children's Museum at La Habra. Its purpose is to allow able-bodied children to explore different disabilities so they may gain a better understanding of what life is like for people with disabilities.

"We hope this exhibit helps to make children sensitive," says Melissa Banning, the museum's assistant director. "We did a similar exhibit several years ago and it was very successful. The main goal is to help youngsters see that disabilities are nothing to be fearful about."

Aided by museum docents, visitors will explore three main areas: visual and hearing losses and orthopedic handicaps.

Simple Task, Hard Work

Kids are invited to make their way up special ramps in child-size wheelchairs as well as try out other orthopedic devices, such as walkers, canes and crutches. Using such equipment, kids will see how much harder orthopedically impaired children work to do simple tasks.

There will be Braille Monopoly sets and Braille checkers and dice for kids to play with. Docents, some of them handicapped themselves, will be able to answer the children's (usually) very direct questions about handicaps and will offer equally direct information about how handicapped people prefer to be treated.

Beginning next Saturday, the museum plans special weekly events to augment the exhibit. A few of the highlights: School principal Al Peraza will talk about how he has learned to live with the loss of his hand on Jan. 23, wheelchair tennis on Feb. 20 and a guide dog demonstration on March 5. All special programs begin at noon.

The museum is at 301 S. Euclid St., La Habra. Museum hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. This exhibit continues through March 12. Admission is $1.50 for adults, $1 for children. Call (213) 905-9793.

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