Call me the dwarfism and disability rights crusader for my son’s school. First, there was a call to action against a charter school placed on our campus. Then, there was a call to action for air conditioning to be placed in our area schools. Often, PTAs will send out template letters for parents to send to the school board. Instead of just copying and sending the template letter, I like to use that letter as a big red flag to say: I’m a parent of a child with dwarfism! Here is your Dwarfism Awareness educational moment!
This is a letter I wrote to the school board members to demonstrate the effects of not having air conditioning at our schools (the name of the school proposition has been changed):
Dear Board Members:
As a mother of a child with dwarfism, I urge you to vote “yes” to approve the vice president’s motion to allocate $9 million in Prop ABC funding for air conditioning at all hot “Climate Zone A” schools. Air conditioning is a necessity to ensure the health and safety of all children who suffer serious health-related problems from overheated classrooms. Those children are often those with disabilities who have sensory processing issues, developmental delays, and chronic health issues.
As stated from Pamela Wilson, an online Special Needs news editor:
“Children with special needs may be more at risk due to health conditions that make them more susceptible to environmental stresses, or symptoms that might be attributed to a chronic condition or other diagnosis. Some lack the mechanisms that allow their bodies to cool off when the weather is hot, or just warm. A drop of perspiration the size of a pea is said to be able to cool a liter of blood one degree. Anhidrosis is a condition where a child does not perspire.”
I cannot speak for other types of disabilities. However, as a parent with dwarfism of a child with dwarfism, I can definitely say that heat affects us greatly. Hyperthermia (overheating) is common with many types of dwarfism including achondroplasia, the most common type of dwarfism, which is what my son and I have. While a person without dwarfism can feel comfortable on a typical sunny day, a child with dwarfism can be sweating profusely, feeling dehydrated and tired. Add a classroom without air conditioning on a hot spring or summer day (for those with year-round school), and the heat makes it very difficult to concentrate and becomes a health hazard. Lack of air conditioning should not be a factor for my child’s academic success. Nor should air conditioning be a privilege for some schools and a right in others. We should take into consideration the health and needs of our students.
The money from the Prop ABC funding should come from the Building Systems Repair allocation. That’s only a fraction of millions budgeted. Clearly, passing this motion to allocate for air conditioning will help everyone. The students can concentrate on their studies and the teachers can concentrate on teaching, rather than thinking of creative ways to keep their students cool and attentive.
Thank you for your time and consideration.