For the past few years, our elementary school has recognized not only Women’s History Month, but Individuals with Disabilities Month each March.
Among the many life stories about individuals with disabilities that student read, one of the titles within the Defining Moments: Overcoming Challenges series was hands-down the students’ favorite.
That title was Bethany Hamilton: Follow Your Dreams!
I suspect students related to that particular biography, in part due to their familiarity with Ms. Hamilton’s life story, from television and film.
But not only for that reason.
Knowing that Ms. Hamilton lost an arm in a shark attack, and yet still continues to surf, unembittered, captured their empathy, as much as their imagination.
Quite simply, they wanted to know more about her.
But not only about her.
Using the interplay of the series title, as well as the title of Ms. Hamilton’s individual biography, students reacted to the biographies of other inspirational individuals honored during the month of March.
“Defining moments,” “overcoming challenges,” and “follow[ing] your dreams” …
In the end, students concluded that everyone has one or more challenges to overcome, and that biographies like Bethany Hamilton’s give others the strength and confidence to face and overcome their own limitations and adversities, past, present, or future, in pursuit of their dreams.
Without a doubt, Ms. Hamilton’s life story–not despite the shark attack, but because of her response to it, made a deeply personal impression—one that will not soon be forgotten by her admiring young readers.