Teacher refused to leave student with disability behind on hike, so she devises amazing plan

If Helma Wardenaar was going to take her class on a trip, she was going to take the entire class. She refused to leave any of her students behind.

So she had to get creative when it came to the class’ annual hike.

That’s because one of her students has cerebral palsy. Wardenaar, a special education teacher and director of student services at the Academy for Global Citizenship on Chicago’s Southwest Side, has worked with 10-year-old Maggie Vazquez since she was in kindergarten.

Maggie uses a walker or wheelchair to get around which presented a challenge to bringing her on a two-day hiking trip in the woods where kids would observe wildlife at Camp Sullivan in Oak Forest.

But Wardenaar was determined to include Maggie.

“As a school, it was very important to include her. We thought it was super important for her to be there and able to do everything the other students were doing,” Wardenaar told ABC 7.

That’s when Wardenaar put on her thinking cap. First, she thought she would borrow a friend’s pony that Maggie could ride.

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