What a great trip to Denver! In-between a baseball game with a puppy-in-training, a one-on-one tour of the 16th Street Mall with the head security cop there (don’t ask!), a nature walk
with an old friend from my days working at the Kane County Cougars and the discovery of a new favorite beer afterwards (90 Shillings Scottish Ale from Odell’s Brewery in Fort Collins), I somehow managed to find enough quiet time at the hotel to make progress on a new book I’m writing, too.
More on that book later.
For now, all you need to know is that we arrived home in Chicago just in time to unpack and re-pack our bags for this Thursday, when Whitney and I head to the Youth Literature Festival put on by the College of Education at the University of Illinois. This year the Youth Literature Festival is partnering with Special Friends (a federally funded project promoting social acceptance and friendships among kindergarteners with and without disabilities)to sponsor our visit to Mrs. Coash’s kindergarten class at Westview School in Champaign.
I’ve known Mary Coash for years – her son Joey had severe and profound disabilities, and he was in self-contained special education classes with our son Gus. Like many other kids Gus introduced us to in his early years, Joey died too young. Joey’s short life inspired his mother to get a degree in education, and the kindergarten class Mary Coash teaches now mixes children with and without disabilities. After Whitney and I visit Mrs. Coash’s kindergartners on Friday, we’ll meet one-on-one with a girl who is blind and graduated from Mrs. Coash’s kindergarten a couple years ago. She’s a big second grader now and enrolled in a class with friends she made in kindergarten.
Whitney and I will be part of the festival’s Community Day on Saturday, October 6, too. Our sessions there are free and open to the public, and the Youth Literature Festival also sent special invitations encouraging parents, caregivers and participants involved in the Special Friends Project to come. I hope they do – I’d love to meet them!
Community Day takes place at the I-Hotel at 1900 S. First Street in Champaign, and our first presentation goes from 10:45 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. Our second session goes from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Both of our sessions meet in the “Excellence Room,” and I gotta admit: that makes me a little nervous. Talk about pressure! If you live anywhere near Champaign, I welcome you to come and see if Whitney and I can live up to our billing…