Teacher carries girl with cerebral palsy in special backpack so she didn't miss class camping trip

CHICAGO -- A Chicago teacher carried her student on her back so the girl who has cerebral palsy wouldn't have to miss a class camping trip.

Helma Wardenaar, a special education teacher at the Academy for Global Citizenship, carried Maggie, a fourth-grader with special needs, in a backpack on her back. Maggie needs a walker or wheelchair to get around, so the two-day trip to Oak Forest, outside of Chicago, involving a hike in the woods, seemed impossible.

Wardenaar looked into several options in an effort to make the trip a reality for Maggie -- including borrowing a friend's pony and using a wheelbarrow to transport the girl.

None of those ideas ended up panning out. Then, someone at an REI store in the area introduced Wardenaar to a backpack-style child carrier. After footing the bill for the backpack, Wardenaar and Maggie were ready for the trip of a lifetime.


During the trip, Maggie sang to Wardenaar and massaged her shoulders to distract her when she got tired.

Wardenaar said she has worked with Maggie since kindergarten, and wouldn't dream of leaving her behind.