The third grade at the Baldwin School, on the mainline of Philadelphia, has been studying poetry and Parkinson’s this spring. When their teacher, Ms. Maria Berger, read my op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer about poetry and Parkinson’s (see previous post), she asked if we might come visit them to read some poetry and talk about Parkinson’s.
The morning began with a short poetry reading by Hal, followed by questions and answers. (“How many poems have you written?” One girl asked. “Thousands,” Hal answered, followed by gasps.) The girls wrote their own poems afterwards and did a group reading. We were impressed.
Afterwards, we were shown a PowerPoint presentation given by the fifth grade girls, of inventions they’ve come up with for making life easier for someone with Parkinson’s. There was a spoon with a lid to prevent spills; a wrap to ease muscle pain; and a microphone to help with speech issues, as demonstrated on a skeleton named Mathilde. Each of these girls was so talented and enthusiastic, so excited and full of life, so determined to help someone with Parkinson’s. We couldn’t help but leave that day with a renewed sense of hope for things to come.
“I have hope for the next generation,” Hal said to me on the way home, “knowing that science and medicine is in the hands of girls like them.” I agree.