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Serving Others

Service Linked to Learning

Elaine Loft
The freshman class traveled on October 12 to Camp Allen in Bedford, NH for a day of service and learning. Camp Allen is an overnight and day summer camp established in 1931 that provides opportunities for friendship, growth, and fun for children and adults with developmental and/or physical and mental disabilities in an outdoor environment. After learning from Camp Allen staff about the mission of the non-profit organization, the students were divided into groups to work on “winterization” projects, including leaf raking, ceiling painting, furniture moving, and trail clearing. Due to Covid restrictions, DS students had not been able to participate in off-campus service opportunities for several years, and greatly enjoyed the opportunity to again put their hands to work in the community.
Camp Allen was chosen as the “day of service” site because its mission ties into the ninth grade English unit which explores disability awareness. This fall the students read Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist by Judith Heumann, a disability rights activist who was paralyzed by polio. Heumann, who had to fight to attend grade school in a wheelchair, and was denied a teacher’s license by the City of New York, was at the forefront of many disability battles. Her efforts eventually led to the creation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504.
Laurie Byron, English department chair, explained that “the students learn that discrimination takes many forms– including sexism, ageism, classism.” Some of these concepts, like ageism, are not immediately obvious as forms of discrimination, but one of the goals of the unit is to make students aware of the untrue presumptions about abilities and roles in society.
Student Elise Cataldo noted, “Camp Allen gave a visual example of everything we’ve been learning in English so far this year, and overall was a good community service experience.”

The Derryfield School

2108 River Road, Manchester, NH 03104     p: 603.669.4524     f: 603.625.9715