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12/07/2013

DON’T LAUGH AT ME

In God’s Eyes We’re All the Same

MH on TourFor me, Christmas isn’t Christmas anymore unless I see Columbus Public Schools’ “MH on Tour.” Yesterday about 50 special needs students from four high schools took their 25th anniversary “Many Hands” Christmas road show to a small gymnasium of Colerain Elementary School.

Aaron from our church, a senior at Centennial High School, was excitedly playing his chime every time a teacher pointed at him. The students signed all of the music (thus “many hands”) as best they could and would even mix in some dance movements. From the time the school year opens in the fall, these high schoolers are asking, “When does MH on Tour begin?”

They sang and signed a long list of songs, including classics like Deck the Halls, Jingle Bells, and Away in the Manger. The 220 students of Colerain were sitting on the floor transfixed and engaged. Half their population is orthopedically impaired and range in age from preschoolers to fifth graders. As I looked around, it was joy to the world everywhere!

Colerain ElementarySitting in a small secure chair right in front of me during the show was a tiny Somalian kindergartener named Hassan (the #3 green shirt in the classroom picture). He kept throwing his head back to catch my eyes, which immediately locked me in on him. Hassan excitedly bounced up and down with each song, keeping good rhythm with his right foot, and groaning with pure delight. He tried to wildly clap his hands after each song.

Not only did I marvel at the Colerain staff love for these adorable little ones, but I imagined how this daily educational experience was forever changing the lives and hearts of the able-bodied students there.

A number that has become the Tour’s theme song was made popular by Country & Western singer Mark Wills and is called “Don’t Laugh at Me.” I wish you could’ve seen the MH kids passionately sing out the chorus: “Don't laugh at me, don't call me names / Don't get your pleasure from my pain / In God's eyes we're all the same /Someday we'll all have perfect wings / Don't laugh at me.”

Those little able-bodied ones of Colerain will never laugh at the disabled. They’ll likely embrace people over the years so easy to ignore and overlook, the ones God sure came into the world for. They’ll play a dramatic part in the Christmas story retold over and over again!