In the children’s book, “Mama Zooms,” a little boy sits on his mother's lap, she being in a wheelchair, and he pictures himself as a jockey swiftly riding across lush grass, as a ship’s captain navigating the deep sea, as a revved up car driver, an airplane pilot whipped by whirling winds, and as a train’s conductor looking down a dark tunnel. Choo choo!
But this little boy’s pretend games are far from the ordinary Cowboys and Indians or dress-up. His Mama, you see, has a “zooming machine'’--a wheelchair that transports her and her imaginative son to work, to the park and, best of all, across the miles of that smiling son’s unlimited imagination.
The author, Jane Cowen-Fletcher's softly-colored pastel and pencil illustrations relay the happy times in the life of a typically rambunctious son who doesn’t see any limits for his Mama who is in a wheelchair or for his own imaginary world.
“Mama is just my mama, and that's how I like her best," proves that no matter whether you have a disability or not, you can be the biggest part of a little boy’s (or girl’s) heart and imagination and every limitation has another perspective to it, an opportunity to teach others.
“Mama Zooms” is a good ice breaker story for disability awareness talks with young children. I always find “Mama Zooms” useful when I go to public schools to speak to students about my life as an active, independent woman with a disability and full-time wheelchair user. Many children are afraid when someone with a disability comes into the family. I’ve spoken to several children who equated the use of a wheelchair with death because a sick grandparent who passed away was last seen in a wheelchair. In fact, many people with disabilities, particularly wheelchair users, are active and aren’t ill in the slightest.
It helps establish that a wheelchair isn’t something that I as an individual with a disability am bound by, but that the wheelchair is a source of freedom and fun for me many times. “Mama Zooms,” although pegged for ages 3-6, is a heart-warming story for the entire family, particularly for families who want to talk about a relative who has suddenly or temporarily experienced a disability. It reinforces that individuals with disabilities can be anything, including parents, and their disability can be a source of positive interaction with a child.
Content copyright © 2009 by Monica J. Foster. All rights reserved.
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