Disabled student couldn’t play with classmates, so teacher came up with an idea
LONDRINA, Brazil - When Gean Sampaio de Melo had the opportunity to accept 6-year-old Heitor into his class, he knew he couldn’t turn away the challenge.
Recent video surfaced of the 26-year-old teacher assisting Heitor, who is disabled, in a physical education class at school in Londrina, a city in the Brazilian state of Paraná.
Sampaio is seen cradling Heitor in his arms through various activities including jump roping, trampolining, tumbling and other calisthenics. It was part of a competition among students.
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Heitor was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was seven days old and also suffers from epilepsy, according to Sampaio.
Sampaio said the video was taken in September 2021 but recently became viral on the internet. His Instagram post has garnered more than 12,000 likes and nearly 600 comments.
"A lot of people have been sending me messages of affection for including Heitor in class," Sampaio told FOX Television Stations. "I have received messages even from outside Brazil and this all makes me very happy."
He explained he accepted Heitor into his class because no other teacher wanted to take on the challenge.
"Before I entered school, Heitor was already studying there and never participated in any class," Sampaio added. "No teacher made a point of including him in class."
Sampaio said he has managed to make sure Heitor is included in all classes to help him experience the whole activity of being a student.
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"Only we teachers know how important we are in each student's life," he continued. 'Teachers of students like Heitor require an even greater responsibility because it is our duty to develop and include them, but also to teach inclusion for the non-disabled, so that they can grow respecting differences."
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cerebral Palsy, or CP, is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. Epilepsy is a broad term used for a brain disorder that causes seizures.
In the U.S., about 764,000 children and adults currently have Cerebral Palsy, according to CerebralPalsy.org. The CDC estimates 470,000 children suffer from epilepsy.
Meanwhile, Sampaio has a message to other teachers or to those considering the profession.
"If you are not to work with love and have the purpose of making a difference in the lives of your students, do not be a teacher," he said.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.