A Girl and a Wheelchair
Olga Gonchar, 14, Kazan



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Alina came to our class from another class in the school. She was 13 and she had problems with her legs; she couldnt move them and moved around with a wheelchair.

Everybody became very quiet when she wheeled herself into the room. Anna was in the back of the class whispering to Tatiana, and they both laughed. I looked at them with as mean a look as I could make. I helped the teacher bring books and supplies to Alina.

At break, Anna came up to me and said, Olga, Alina is a cripple. We don't think it is cool for you to be friendly with her.

Tatiana added, Right, if no one is friendly to her, maybe she will go back to her other class. We really don't want her in our class.

This is unbelievable. What do you mean? Do you have a right to disapprove of someone just because she is disabled. You are the freaks. I was angry. I imagined what it would feel like to be in her place Imagine no one wanting to be your friend, and because it is something you can't change.

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I would hate to be looked at with pity, or fright or even disgust.

During the next class, I observed her for some time. She was just like any of us: a pretty face, bright eyes, nice smile. She laughed at the same jokes we did, she knew all the latest news in politics, science, fashion and music. I decided that I wanted to become friends with her.

Several years later she had surgery on her legs and now she can walk, jump, run and enjoy her life. She also has lots of friends, but still she says that Im her best friend.

Now we can go swimming, even dancing together! Im glad that I was with her during that difficult period of her life. This experience helped me to understand different people better.

Im convinced that it doesnt matter if a person has disabilities or not. Appearance plays an important role in our life, but it is not the main thing. The main thing is to be a good person inside!


I. Understanding the Story
Discuss this story's main idea with a partner.

II. Vocabulary
Match these words with a synonym/phrase on the right.

A. problems
1. feel sorry for
B. to wheel
2. watch and look at
C. cripple
3. difficult things to solve
D. disabled
4. move around in a wheeled chair
E. pity
5. someone who walks differently
F. disgust
6. annoyance; extreme dislike
G. observe
7. not being able to do something

III. Now you Talk
1. Retell the story, taking turns.
2. What would you have done if you had been Olga?
3. Describe another disability.

IV. Now you Write
1. Describe the two main characters.
2. Write an email from Tatiana to Anna.
3. Write a summary of the story.

V. Grammar Practice
Combine the two or three sentences into one. Example: She came into the room. The students left. When she came into the room, the students left.

1. She has lots of friends. I am still her best friend.
2. She had surgery. Now she can walk. She can dance too.
3. Anna said unkind things. Olga became angry.
4. I observed her. She laughed at the same jokes.

VI. Role Play
1. Alina and the writer: Their first conversation after class.
2. The writer and Anna: They disagree about Alina.
3. Anna and Tatiana: They discuss getting Alina out of the class.
4. The writer and the teacher: They talk about how to solve the problem.
5. Alina and the writer (after the surgery): They plan what to do.