First Posted: 4/1/2012

Youngsters gathered in the children’s wing of the Back Mountain Memorial Library on March 21 to learn more about children with disabilities in recognition of March as Intellectually Disadvantaged Month.

Employees from Step By Step, Inc., an organization located in Wilkes-Barre that provides support services to those living with disabilities, chose two books to read to 3, 4 and 5-year-olds in attendance.

“We do a project every year where we go out to as many schools as possible to teach kids about people with intellectual disabilities and autism awareness,” said Diane Kendig, of Step By Step.

Step By Step employee Mary Pilarik read the books “My Brother Charlie” by actress Holly Robinson Peete and “French Fries Please!” by local author Sandra Mungro King.

“My Brother Charlie” is based on Peete’s own experiences growing up with her autistic twin brother, R.J. “French Fries Please!” is about a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder who has difficulty trying new foods.

“Kids are aware of intellectual disability,” said Kendig. “It’s nice, if anything, to make them aware before they reach school age to know that students with special needs are OK, that they can accept them and treat them as friends.”

Jill Antall and her 3-year-old daughter, Julia, of Dallas attending the reading group at the library every week, but it was the first time Julia had been exposed to the subject at hand.

“It’s good experience for her to hear about this, that kids with disabilities aren’t any different,” said Jill Antall.

Jessica Zurawski and her 3-year-old daughter, Rebecca, enjoyed the books, and the elder Zurawski said she believes kids don’t care much about the differences of people – they accept everyone.

“I think kids understand that everyone is different, but they’re accepting of everyone,” she said.

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