Monday, January 30, 2017

Third Grade Girl Is Curious About the Brain

Meet Miss Snyder.  A third grader in (yes!) Mrs. Fox's class at Warm Springs Intermediate School.  And, guess what!?!

Yes!  She is curious "about people that have Parkinson's disease brains, like Mrs. Hott's husband."

And, she says, "I love Mrs. Hott's shirt, Team Fox!"

As a facilitator for a program called Positive Actions, it is my job to encourage and inspire elementary students in grades 3, 4, and 5 to consider their unique qualities, diverse gifts, and special talents.  We learn that every child can choose a positive path.  Recently, we asked nearly 400 children, "What are you curious about?"

Since my audience is a mix from rural West Virginia, we often challenge each to overcome their obstacles with encouragement that with positive actions, even those from an itty-bitty town in the Appalachian foothills can dream big and provide exciting and positive contributions that can change our world.  Yes, with positive actions today, third graders are preparing to improve their tomorrows!

Wearing my "Team Fox" shirt on our day when the Positive Action word is the coolest ever (in my book):  "curiosity."  Digging deep in my heart for a message of hope to encourage children to talk about what makes them curious and why "curiosity" can contribute to their futures, improve their quality of life, and, ultimately, provide a resource to propell them not just to the next day or grade, I offered that with "curiosity" young students can begin a journey, much like Katherine Johnson!  Have you heard of her?  Her story can be found in the new movie, Hidden Figures, another West Virginia girl, who was curious, about.... numbers!  With math, Ms. Johnson calculated the formulas to send John Glen in to orbit!  Pretty cool curiosity!

As a black woman leaving small town West Virginia in the 1960's, Katherine Johnson had plenty of struggles.  Rather than wallow in negativity, Katherine chose a positive path.  She followed her curiosity all the way to NASA!

That's me.  At barely 5 feet, I am a 51-year-old-gray-haired-PD-blogging-Positive Actions teacher who, like Katherine, and like Michael J. Fox, is "Always Looking Up".  I have to.  After telling the class about my adorable, hott-hubby Dan having a chronic brain illness, I share that it is indeed possible to remain positive, rather than wallow in all the yucky changes that came once Parkinson's Disease moved in our house in 2008.

With research, exercise, healthy choices, education, policy, and inspiration for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) I advocate for positive choices not only for PD and but also our youth.  Who knows?  Maybe by encouraging students to be curious, they will seek a cure to this disease that "affects the nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine"  I shared this with a room of 3rd graders, then...I shared that I am curious about the brain so I understand more about Dan's symptoms.

Can I just say "wow!"  A third grader made me this paper.  She is curious about the brain.  Want to know that I think?  These students are going to cure Parkinson's someday...


So, watch out Capitol Hill!  Dan and I are coming to the Parkinson's Policy Forum in late February to advocate for people with PD.  We will be meeting with representatives, sharing our story in support of benefits and research for Parkinson's Disease.

Fund science.

Cure Parkinson's Disease.

(And, stay curious!)
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